Is it safe to use a hot tub during pregnancy?
Answer From Myra Wick, M.D., Ph.D.
Pregnancy and hot tubs can be a risky combination.
Spending 10 minutes or more in a hot tub can raise your body temperature to 102 F (38.9 C), causing a condition known as hyperthermia. Studies have shown an increased risk of neural tube defects — serious abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord — in the babies of women who experience high temperatures during the first four to six weeks of pregnancy. Some studies also suggest that hyperthermia during pregnancy increases the risk of other birth defects and miscarriage, but further research is needed.
If you might be pregnant and plan to use a hot tub, or you choose to use a hot tub during pregnancy, take these steps to reduce the risks:
- Limit time in the hot tub to less than 10 minutes.
- Avoid sitting near the inlet that provides newly heated water.
- Get out of the hot tub if you start to sweat or feel any discomfort.
- Stay out of the hot tub if you aren't in good health or you already have an elevated temperature due to fever, exercise, or previous hot tub or sauna use.
If you used a hot tub for a lengthy period of time early in pregnancy, consider talking to your doctor about ways to detect neural tube defects during pregnancy.
Nov. 10, 2015
Myra Wick, M.D., Ph.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Chambers CD. Risks of hyperthermia associated with hot tub or spa use by pregnant women. Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2006;76:569.
- Shahrukh Hashmi S, et al. Maternal fever during early pregnancy and the risk of oral clefts. Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2010;88:186.
- Hyperthermia and pregnancy. Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. http://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/hyperthermia-pregnancy/. Accessed Oct. 7, 2015.
- Moretti ME, et al. Maternal hyperthermia and the risk for neural tube defects in offspring: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Epidemiology. 2005;16:216.
- Dreier JW, et al. Systematic review and meta-analyses: Fever in pregnancy and health impacts in the offspring. Pediatrics. 2014:133:e674.
- Duong HT, et al. Maternal use of hot tub and major structural defects. Birth Defects Research (Part A). 2011;91:836.