Is Mosquito Repellant Safe for Babies?
Good question: “Is mosquito repellant safe for babies?” One of the major reasons why people seek mosquito control systems is to protect their children while playing in the garden or backyard. You may be concerned that if the mosquito control system you use is effective against these little critters, then what effect might it have on a young child? Here are some facts that might put your mind at rest.
If you want your baby to get out in the spring or early summer before it gets too hot for them, then you also want to be sure that they will not bitten by mosquitoes – or any other flying insects. You may think it is a matter of mitigating the risk, and balancing the respective likelihoods of harm: the mosquito or the control system. You may come to the conclusion that neither risk is worth taking, and keep your baby indoors all summer.
Mosquito activity begins in the spring, though it comes on gradually. It rises to a peak in summer, and then drops off during the fall. Winter is generally safe. If you have a young child, and also a mosquito problem, then what do you do? You cannot keep your baby indoors for most of the year, so you need some assurance that you can control the mosquito infestation around your home while maintaining a safe environment for your children, no matter what their ages.
Risk to Children From Mosquito Control Systems
It should be stressed that no insecticide is 100% safe for babies, although the most commonly used are about as safe as they can get. A good mosquito control misting company will spray the underside of bushes and other plants, which is where these insects tend to settle rather in direct sunlight and clearly exposed to their own predators. They hide, and if the spray has been applied correctly, they will not last long in their normal safe havens.
The major risk comes from N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) which was developed by the U.S. military to protect troops from insects during jungle warfare in WW2. This is used today in mosquito sprays, and it is wise to avoid these. Where permethrin is used as the insecticide the risk is very significantly reduced. The following information might put your mind at rest using permethrin-based mosquito control sprays.
Permethrin for Mosquito Control
Trials have been carried out in Africa on the use of mosquito netting impregnated with permethrin to protect babies and young children from malaria. It was found that this form of protection resulted in a significant reduction in mortality in children aged 2 years and under. This is good evidence for permethrin-based mosquito control sprays to be as safe for babies as it can get.
Young babies in strollers are safe in such environments, and certainly safer than if exposed to mosquito attacks. Toddlers should be supervised and not allowed to scramble among the bushes and shrubs. If they did this even without the mosquito control system, they would likely be bitten severely multiple times. There is a slight risk, it must be agreed, but nothing like the risk of a child being bitten and the suffering that can arise from that. If it’s good enough for mosquito nets in Ghana, it should be good for protecting your home.
Here are references regarding the use of permethrin impregnated mosquito nets in Africa:
D’Alessandro U, Olaleye BO, McGuire W, Langerock P, Bennett S: Mortality and morbidity from malaria in Gambian children after introduction of an impreganted bednet programme.
Lancet 1995, 345:479-483.
Killeen GF, Smith TA, Ferguson HM, Mshinda H, Abdulla S, Lengeler C, Kachur SP: Preventing Childhood Malaria in Africa by Protecting Adults from Mosquitoes with Insecticide-Treated Nets.
PloS Med 2007, 4:e229.