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DEETThe following was digested from an article by William B. Weil, M.D. written for the American Academy of Pediatrics News, August 2001, and posted on the AAP website.
DEET (N,N-dimethyl-meta-toluamide) is an insect repellant developed by the US Army in the 1940's and approved for public use in 1957. It has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as posing no significant risks to children, but is subject to ongoing monitoring for any adverse effects or reactions.
Despite long years of use in millions of adults and children, there have been few reports of adverse reactions. Most reactions in children have involved urticaria (hives) and other skin and respiratory irritation.
Seizures have been reported very rarely in DEET-exposed individuals (30 reports in over 40 years of use); according to the EPA about half of these reports may have been related to DEET exposure. Most reactions in general do involve children, most often related to chronic overuse of DEET.
Current American Academy of Pediatrics and EPA guidelines recommend use of products that contain no more than 30% DEET for adults and children. Parents concerned about possible toxicity may use products that contain 10-15% DEET. The higher concentration would be appropriate for use in areas where there is heightened concern about insect or tick borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus, malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever and equine encephalitis.
The are the EPA recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics website for DEET use in children:
Do not use combination products of sunscreen with insect repellant. Sunscreen should be reapplied every hour or so outdoors, especially if the child is swimming; insect repellants should only be applied once or twice a day. Also, avoid any product with a food-like odor or color. These can be too attractive for young children to accidentally ingest.
The idea of using non-DEET-containing repellents is attractive, but there is no evidence that they work as well as or are any safer than DEET. Other means of avoiding mosquito bites should not be ignored:
Don't forget to check around your house for any areas however small of standing water. These are an open invitation for mosquitoes to breed and bite.