It is wintertime and some of us are thinking about traveling to a warmer place. If you are headed to a tropical destination, we need to plan ahead for our trips. January is also Birth Defects Prevention Month, so we are reminding moms to avoid exposures that increase the risk for birth defects.

  • If you have motion sickness, medications such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), meclizine (Antivert or Bonine), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are not expected to cause an increased risk in pregnancy.
  • Sunscreen can help prevent sunburn today and cancer later. Sunscreens are not absorbed well by the skin, so we don’t expect any increased risks in pregnancy or breastfeeding. Check the package to see how often you need to reapply it when sweating, swimming, or just relaxing.
  • There are locally-acquired cases of Zika in Florida and Texas, so protect yourself from mosquitoes if you are traveling to those states, Mexico, the Caribbean, and some other tropical areas. Zika does increase the risk for birth defects that involve the brain.
  • Insect repellents with DEET can be used in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Small amounts may be absorbed through the skin but it is not expected to cause any increased risks during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The insect repellent should be applied after or on top of the sunscreen to be effective. Long pants and shirts will keep biting bugs, such as mosquitoes, from getting to your skin (and help prevent sunburns).
  • All pregnant women with sex partners who live in or traveled to an area with Zika should use condoms during sex or abstain from sex for the rest of their pregnancy.