Safety of the insect repellent N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide (DEET) in pregnancy.

R McGreadyFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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K A HamiltonFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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J A SimpsonFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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T ChoFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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C LuxemburgerFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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R EdwardsFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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S LooareesuwanFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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N J WhiteFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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F NostenFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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S W LindsayFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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The safety of daily application of N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) (1.7 g of DEET/day) in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy was assessed as part of a double-blind, randomized, therapeutic trial of insect repellents for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy (n = 897). No adverse neurologic, gastrointestinal, or dermatologic effects were observed for women who applied a median total dose of 214.2 g of DEET per pregnancy (range = 0-345.1 g). DEET crossed the placenta and was detected in 8% (95% confidence interval = 2.6-18.2) of cord blood samples from a randomly selected subgroup of DEET users (n = 50). No adverse effects on survival, growth, or development at birth, or at one year, were found. This is the first study to document the safety of DEET applied regularly in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The results suggest that the risk of DEET accumulating in the fetus is low and that DEET is safe to use in later pregnancy.

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