For medical reasons mostly, pregnancy tanning should be avoided. First of all, indoor tanning means an overheating which occurs when a person lies down on a tanning bed. This hyperthermic effect is very dangerous in the first three months of pregnancy because overheating increases the risk of spinal malformation in the fetus. Secondly, UV rays are supposed to be responsible for diminishing the folic acid level, which is critical for the neural tube. A low folic acid level might cause neural tube defects in the fetus. Thirdly, there are aesthethic and health problems to take into acount. A pregnant woman should learn that indoor tanning exposure emphasises that cutaneous affection characterized by yellowish brown pigmented spots (“chloasma”); besides, her skin is more sensitive and vulnerable to sunburns.
Some precautions should be displayed by salon owners, too. They should ask for a written recommendation of the pregnant tanner’s doctor and they should make sure that their client is not under any medication which photosensitizes her skin. Suggestions about postponing the schedule are not exaggerated. The danger of exposure to tanning equipment is too high for pregnant women. Persuasive evidence induces that indoor exposure is also risky for babies during pregnancy and neither bed tanning nor lamp tanning is advisable. A self tanning lotion or self tanning cream might seem to be the perfect solution for pregnant women longing for a dark complexion. But there are actually some suspicions that a self tanning cream, for instance, may pass through the skin and the placenta and may be harmful for the baby.
As a conclusion, it would be interesting to mention a letter sent by a physician to the American Journal of Medical Genetics, saying that 3 unrelated, absolutely healthy pacients gave birth to babies with neural tube deficiencies. The pacients admitted that they had exposed themselves to indoor tanning in their early pregnancy.