CDC States Women Should Avoid Alcohol Unless Using Birth Control

By Joe Shlabotnik from Forest Hills, Queens, USA (Margaritaville) [CC BY 2.0 (], via

A new study hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states women should avoid alcohol unless using some kind of birth control. The recommendation was done in order to reduce the number of babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

CDC Study

According to Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, states,” Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant. About half of all pregnancies in the United States are planned, and even if planned, most women don’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they still might be drinking.”

Schuchat asks the question, “The risk is real. Why take the chance?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 3.3 million females between the ages of 15 and 44 years of age are at risk of exposing a fetus to alcohol because they drink, are sexually active and do not use any form of contraceptives. According to the report, even when a woman is trying to conceive, three in four will continue drinking after cessation of birth control.

There is no safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink at any stage of pregnancy. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends women stop drinking alcohol when attempting to conceive.

When alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, the CDC warns, “It can cause lasting physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime.” These types of disabilities are called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and they affect one in 20 children of school age.

Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, president of the obstetrician-gynecologists group at the CDC states, when a pregnant female drinks, “alcohol can quickly reach the fetus’s underdeveloped liver and brain through the placenta.”

Infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome are at a greater risk of being smaller and have problems with their brain, heart and kidneys, according to the CDC. Brain damage in infants with fetal alcohol syndrome can result in a low IQ, learning disabilities, attention problems, poor reasoning and judgement, lack of the ability to properly communicate and hyperactivity. All of these issues can result in mental illness, substance abuse and other problems that can last a lifetime.

Dr. DeFrancesco said, physicians “should routinely screen women regarding their alcohol use, both before and during pregnancy, and should provide support for women to stop use of alcohol when planning a pregnancy or when becoming pregnant.”
In the United States, alcohol use during pregnancy results in $.5.5 billion in health care costs.

Some females who want to get pregnant take prenatal vitamins, but do not think about their alcohol use, according to Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She further stated, “Hopefully, this is the sort of report that will make people stop and think.”

Conclusion to the Study

Some women will take heed to this study, while others will not. Wanda Filer added that telling young women to abstain from alcohol could be easier said than done. Alcohol plays a role in many acts of unprotected sex, even among married couples.


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