Are moms-to-be a target for mosquitos?

A friend mentioned that that she has been the "target" of mosquitos while pregnant and other friends chimed in that they had the same problem when expecting. Are pregnant women actually more attractive to mosquitos?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

According to a recent study published in Lancet, mosquitos are especially drawn to expectant moms. Research conducted in Gambia found that the pregnant women attracted twice as many mosquitos. The insect is attracted to carbon dioxide and heat. Pregnant women produce more of these attributes than other people, so they become favorite targets.

Concern arises because, although relatively rare in the U.S., (the most recent case was reported in Florida in June 1990), mosquitos carry the malaria virus which can be fatal to the mother and to the fetus. Malaria can also cause stillbirths and contributes to low birth weight and early infant death. Another disease, encephalitis, is also carried by mosquitos and could prove fatal in some extreme cases.

To avoid contact with this insect, use screens, stay indoors during early evening hours -- a peak time for mosquitos -- or wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. In areas where malaria is endemic, the application of small amounts of DEET-containing products may be necessary. In the U.S., however, during pregnancy, it is best to apply products which do not contain this insecticide.

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