There’s no getting around it, ladies: Drinking during pregnancy is harmful to the fetus. You may think a gulp of booze here or there is no big deal. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is standing firm. In a strongly worded statement on Tuesday, the CDC made its stance on drinking while pregnant very clear.
According to the New York Daily News, the organization emphasized that any fertile woman who is pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant should abstain from drinking. Otherwise, the woman should use contraceptions to prevent pregnancy or hold off on becoming pregnant until she’s ready to say no to alcohol.
It doesn’t matter whether you know if you’re pregnant. Consumption of alcohol can still cause permanent harm to a fetus. This is true at any stage of a woman’s pregnancy, hence the emphasis on not drinking at all.
“The risk is real,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat. “Why take the chance?”
Schuchat shared that statistically, roughly “half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.” As such, it’s highly likely that the mothers had no idea that they were putting their fetuses at risk. This is scary because alcohol often plays a role in unplanned pregnancies. And if a mother is still boozing while unaware of the developing fetus inside her, she is also unaware of the irreversible damage being caused, as well.
That’s bad, because the CDC says that drinking during pregnancy can cause “lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.” Such disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). USA Today reports that children with FASDs are often born small and likely to develop heart, kidney, and brain problems. Any brain damage can lead to a lower-than-normal IQ, learning difficulties, hyperactivity or attention disorders, and poor reasoning and social skills.
These issues can even lead to drug abuse, mental illness, or other negative and life-long consequences. Looking at the host of heart-breaking issues caused by drinking during pregnancy, it seems rational to surmise that it’s just not worth the trouble.
Despite the well-documented list of health problems caused by drinking while pregnant, health officials believe it’s an uphill battle to convince women to approach the matter sensibly. The rumor persists that “one or two glasses” aren’t harmful, despite the CDC making no such clarification — and recently having to speak out against such thinking.
Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, acknowledged getting some American women to part ways with their boozy habits might be a “tough sell.” Again, alcohol often plays a role in pregnancies — planned or unplanned.
Said Filer, “Some women will take this advice, and some will not.”
If a woman who wishes to have children is concerned about the risks, there are options. The CDC recommends that women who are or may become pregnant “talk with their healthcare provider” about doing so safely. These women are encouraged to ask their partner, family, and friends to respect their decision not to drink during pregnancy. If worried they cannot stop alcohol consumption alone, it’s strongly recommended to seek out a trusted medical professional about treatment options.
If worried they cannot stop alcohol consumption alone, it’s strongly recommended to seek out a trusted medical professional about treatment options. Whatever steps can be taken should be taken if it means avoiding serious long-term consequences for an unborn child.
Mark DeFrancesco, the president of the obstetrician-gynecologist group, suggest that doctors “routinely screen women regarding their alcohol use, both before and during pregnancy.”
Please visit the official CDC website for more information about drinking and pregnancy.