Pregnancy and hot tubs: What's the risk?

Pregnancy and hot tubs can be a risky combination.

Spending more than 10 minutes in a hot tub can raise your body temperature higher than 101 F (38.3 C). Limited research has shown a small increased risk of neural tube defects — serious abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord — in the babies of women who have fevers during early pregnancy. Some studies also suggest that a fever during pregnancy might increase the risk of miscarriage, but further research is needed. While it's not clear whether an abnormally high body temperature caused by fever has the same effect on pregnant women as a high temperature caused by hot tub use, experts urge caution.

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.
  • Avoid submerging your head, arms, shoulders and upper chest.
  • Get out of the hot tub if you feel any discomfort.

You might limit time in the hot tub to even less than 10 minutes or avoid using a 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.

Last Updated Nov 21, 2020

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