How does hot tub use affect the baby?
Researchers found fifty years ago that Guinea pigs on an Australian farm had higher rates of miscarriage and litters with birth defects following a significant heat wave. The researchers hypothesized that the significant differences may have been brought on by the heat.
Naturally, we won’t conduct this type of research on humans. Thus, in order to assess potential risks to developing embryos, researchers and medical professionals must inquire about pregnant women’s exposure to extreme heat.
Studies seem to indicate that hot tub use during early pregnancy, particularly when the water is at least 101 degrees, may increase the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida.
When the embryo’s spine and central nervous system fail to develop properly, neural tube defects result. For a typical pregnancy, the risk of neural tube defects is approximately 1 in 1,000. Studies indicate that when exposed to hot tub water, the risk doubles to 1 in 1,000.
After conception, an embryo’s spine quickly begins to develop. In actuality, six weeks after a woman’s last missed period, the spine has fully developed.
Since about half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the neural tube damage may occur before a woman experiences any pregnancy symptoms.
In other words, for neural tube damage to happen, you’d have to have been exposed to a hot tub during the vulnerable six-week window of early pregnancy.
When a patient tells me they are concerned because they were in a hot tub over the weekend but we know she is now 12 weeks pregnant, that is probably not a cause for concern. In that situation, I can be very comforting to patients, which is a really satisfying feeling for a doctor.
At UT Southwestern, we are very good at identifying neural tube defects; we can identify more than 95% of cases of spina bifida. We can use bloodwork and ultrasound to reassure a patient who used a hot tub during the early stages of pregnancy that the likelihood that their unborn child will be harmed is extremely unlikely.
Can Pregnant Women Get in Hot Tubs?
When pregnant, entering a sauna or jacuzzi entails being exposed to higher temperatures than usual. Your body is undergoing significant hormonal changes, which may have negative side effects:
Overheating. Â Saunas hamper your ability to lose heat by sweating. Even though it’s not dangerous normally, doing this while pregnant can be harmful. For example, overheating can cause nausea and disorientation.
Fainting. Your body sends more blood to the surface of your skin when it is exposed to a high temperature so that you can cool off by perspiring. This, along with the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, can decrease blood flow to your brain, which can cause fainting.
Dizziness. Â Overheating can also make you feel dizzy. This is brought on by a lack of blood flow to your brain, just like fainting. Â.
Dehydration. Your body perspires a lot more than usual due to the hot tub’s high temperature. Additionally, if you are pregnant, your body may already be dehydrated. Mild dehydration could result from the high temperature and lack of water. Â.
Keep hydrated and dress appropriately to prevent some of these symptoms. Otherwise, exit the sauna or hot tub as soon as you begin to feel overheated and attempt to cool down with a glass of water.
Is using a hot tub during pregnancy only risky during the first trimester? Anonymous patient