The CDC issued a warning on Tuesday directed to women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are engaging in sexual intercourse without using protection. The warning issued by the CDC pertains to drinking alcohol when the possibility of pregnancy exists. The CDC estimates that 3.3 million women are in the group mentioned in the warning. CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat issued a statement about drinking while pregnancy may be an issue.
“Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant. About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking. The risk is real. Why take the chance?”
— NCBDDD (@CDC_NCBDDD) January 11, 2016
The warning by the CDC is clear. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy, no matter how minuscule, is not considered safe to a developing fetus. Birth defects in a developing embryo from drinking alcohol can begin during the first couple weeks of pregnancy. Doctor Lela McKnight-Elly is an epidemiologist and clinical psychologist with the CDC and she talks about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.”
Signs And Symptoms Of A Baby Born With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
- Abnormal facial features/structure
- Small head size (Microcephaly)
- Delays in learning and recognizing speech
- Low IQ
- Vision and/or hearing problems
- Heart, kidney, or bone problems
Diagnosis of FASD cannot be done through blood tests. In order to determine if a child has FASD, doctors will look for specific physical features and behavior problems during the first few years of life. There is no treatment or cure for FASD. The only thing that can be done is to treat the symptoms if the symptoms are such that medication can be used.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are thought to impact up to 40,000, or five percent of the children, each year in the United States. The rate of children born with autism is less than those born with FASD. These disorders are the number one form of preventable retardation. Schuchat believes that women are not drinking to intentionally hurt their unborn baby. She believes that woman may not be aware of the potential damage that alcohol could have when a woman may be pregnant.
“We realize that women do not drink during pregnancy to intentionally hurt their babies. hey are either not aware of the risk or they need help to stop drinking.”
— NCBDDD (@CDC_NCBDDD) September 28, 2015
Doctors need to make sure to educate their female patients who are considering getting pregnant. Women who stop taking birth control in the hopes of becoming pregnant should also stop drinking alcohol when they stop taking their pill. Most women do not realize that they have become pregnant until they miss their last period and take a pregnancy test. This can take up to six weeks before a woman knows for sure. That is six weeks of potential fetal damage if the woman is continuing to drink alcohol.
Some studies in the past have shown that an occasional drink during pregnancy showed no significant risks to the child. With this new CDC warning, the thought process on this needs to be reworked.
Do you think that the new CDC warning on drinking during pregnancy is too strict? Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with FASD?
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