Originally Posted July 08
When I heard that a friend wasn't using any bug protection for her 5 month old because her pedi had recommended holding off until 6 months, it reminded me to post my rave for California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray. I'm one of those people who's blood is particularly attractive to mosquitoes and the the like. I've been using the CABaby stuff on myself as well as MJ, and it works great for both of us. I also have their Citronella Sunscreen and like that as well. Neither of these products contain DEET, so they're safe to use on babies of any age. Other companies make similar essential oil products...I know Burt's Bees is one.
Warning: Digression Incoming
This takes me to a recent blurb in Parent's Magazine. I have a free subscription, but I don't know why I read it. It usually finds some way to annoy me each month, most recently with one-sided pieces on cloth diapering and circumcision. This month's issue contains an article on the topic of summer insect protection:
"Apply an insect repellent containing DEET to your child's exposed skin--avoiding face and hands--before the child goes outdoors. The AAP recommends using a product that contains no more than 30% DEET. Don't use DEET on babies under 2 months old.
After your child comes indoors, wash the treated skin with soap and water. Avoid products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent because you could expose your child to excess DEET when you reapply every couple of hours.
For extra protection, apply a repellent containing permethrin to clothing, shoes, and sleeping bags. Permethrin is a virtually nontoxic chemical that kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other bugs on contact. Spray items outdoors, and allow clothing to dry before wearing it. Don't apply permethrin directly to the skin."
Let's tackle the DEET first. Avoid the face and hands. Don't use more than a 30% concentration. Don't apply to babies less than 2 months old. Wash it off as soon as you're inside. Don't overexpose. Yeah, this sounds like good stuff! Here's more:
DEET is a toxic compound, partially absorbed into the bloodstream, and associated with dermal and neurological reactions. Several cases of toxic encephalopathy (brain damage) associated with the use of DEET in children have been reported in the medical literature. Generalized seizures have also been temporally associated with the use of DEET.
And Permethrin? "Virtually nontoxic?" How's this sound:
Permethrin, like all synthetic pyrethroids, is a neurotoxin. Symptoms include tremors, incoordination, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified permethrin as a carcinogen because it causes lung tumors in female mice and liver tumors in mice of both sexes. Permethrin inhibits the activity of the immune system in laboratory tests, and also binds to the receptors for a male sex hormone. It causes chromosome aberrations in human and hamster cells.
Permethrin is toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects, fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, and shrimp. For many species, concentrations of less than one part per billion are lethal. Permethrin causes deformities and other developmental problems in tadpoles, and reduces the number of oxygen-carrying cells in the blood of birds.
Permethrin has been found in streams and rivers throughout the United States. It is also routinely found on produce, particularly spinach, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, and peaches.
A wide variety of insects have developed resistance to permethrin. High levels of resistance have been documented in cockroaches, head lice, and tobacco budworm.
I'd call that pretty darn toxic. And the most widely read parenting magazine is encouraging people to use it for their babies. Nice.