National Pesticide Information Center



Pesticides and Pregnancy

All pesticides have some level of toxicity and pose some risk during pregnancy. The risk depends on the toxicity of the pesticide ingredients and how much of the pesticide you and the baby are exposed to while pregnant. During pregnancy, the baby's brain, nervous system, and organs are developing rapidly and can be more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides. Because of this, it is important to minimize exposure to pesticides during pregnancy.

One way to minimize your exposure to pesticides is to take an approach called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a pest control strategy that uses a combination of methods to prevent and eliminate pests in the most effective and least hazardous manner. For more information on IPM visit NPIC's Integrated Pest Management web page, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Service.

If you choose to use a pesticide during pregnancy, keep these tips in mind to minimize your risks:

  • Always be sure to read the product label first. The product must be approved for the intended use and applied according to label directions.
  • Seek the least-toxic pesticide option available for controlling your pest.
  • If possible, have someone else perform the pesticide application and leave the area.
  • Allow plenty of time for the home to air out, and the pesticide to dry before returning.
  • Avoid contact with the treated areas as much as possible.
  • If you must garden in areas that have been treated with pesticides, consider wearing gloves and clothing that covers your skin.
  • If someone in your family works with pesticides, learn more about minimizing exposure and washing work clothes.
  • Call NPIC to learn about the reproductive toxicity of the pesticide. Often, laboratory tests have been done to investigate those risks.

Additional Resources:

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated November 6, 2015