Study: Mosquitoes are more attracted to pregnant women

Do you know how to protect yourself from mosquitoes, mums?

Mosquito-borne diseases wreak havoc with the health of a population. Take dengue and Zika, for example.  We know that the former can be very dangerous when contracted by babies and young kids. The latter can have devastating health consequences on babies if their mothers contract the disease while pregnant. But did you also know that there is an important link between pregnancy and mosquitoes? 

pregnancy and moquitoes Beware of mosquitoes in high risk areas, mums! | Source: file photo

Pregnancy and Mosquitoes: Why Mosquitoes Love Pregnant Women

Studies show that pregnant women are more susceptible to mosquito bites.

They are twice as likely to be bitten compared to the rest of the population. Unfortunately, mosquitoes love exhaled carbon dioxide, and pregnant women tend to exhale more because of their above-average weight.

Furthermore, pregnant women also have a higher body temperature, which is a signal to mosquitoes that they are sources of blood.  

Preventive Measures to Protect Yourself from Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases 

Pregnancy and mosquitoes don't go well together, but that doesn't mean you can't protect yourself. Here are two ways to prevent contracting diseases like dengue and Zika: by implementing lifestyle changes and ensuring mosquitoes don't breed. 

Lifestyle Changes

  • Avoid wearing dark hued clothes (such as black or navy blue), as these colours attract mosquitoes. Instead, wear light-coloured clothes (such as white or yellow) to decrease the chances of mosquitoes biting you. 
  • Use full bodied clothing such as long sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Abstain from sexual intercourse as Zika can be transmitted from males to pregnant females. If you live in an area endemic to Zika, please consider this before engaging in sexual activities.  
  • Stay indoors. Being within spaces enclosed by windows and door screens prevents yourself from being exposed to mosquitoes.
  • Use a bed net when sleeping. If you don't sleep with air conditioning, consider using bed nets to prevent risking mosquito bites. These can be purchased from online retailers like Lazada. 
  • Always apply mosquito repellent when in areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. Here are some tips for pregnant women to follow:
    1. Discuss with your gynecologist which repellent suits you best. Learn about the side effects repellents may have. 
    2. Always apply sunscreen prior to applying insect repellents. 
    3. Follow the instructions printed provided by the manufacturer and re-apply as directed. Only spray onto uncovered skin or clothing. Do NOT apply it onto skin covered by clothing, over wounds, cuts, irritated skin, eyes, mouth, or directly to your face. The repellent should only be applied sparingly over the ears.

pregnancy and mosquitoes Don't forget to spray insect repellent! | Source: file photos

The National Environmental Agency also recommends citronella oil as a short term-repellent. 

Controlling Mosquito Populations in Zika-Affected Areas

  • Flip pails and watering cans to prevent stagnant water from accumulating. These are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • If you have potted plants at home, work the soil so that stagnant water doesn't accumulate on its surface.
  • Don't place things that can store water under air conditioners. Leaky air conditioners can fill these containers and provide ideal conditions for mosquito breeding.  
  • If possible, try and avoid using plant pot plates, as they can store stagnant water and mosquito eggs. If you have any, remove any remaining fluid and scrub them clean to of mosquito eggs. 
  • Avoid placing obstructions like potted plants that might block the flow of water over drains along common corridors in HDB estates. 
  • Rarely-used gully traps should be covered, and where possible, substituted with their non-perforated ones counterparts. You may also consider installing anti-mosquito valves.
  • Shield bamboo pole holders with cloth or tarp after using them. Rainwater may accumulate in uncovered poles and promote mosquito spawning. 
  • Change the water in flower vases and ensure that the sides are scrubbed clean. Plant roots should also be thoroughly washed as mosquito eggs stick to them easily. 
  • Lastly, be updated with the latest news from the Ministry of Health and NEA. 

We at theAsianparent Singapore hope this article helped you in protecting you and your loved ones from mosquito-borne threats. Remember, pregnancy and mosquitoes don't go well together — protect yourself before it's too late.

References: NEA, CDC, CDC (prevention), NCBI Journal