“The risk is real”

CDC warns young women to avoid alcohol unless they use contraception

(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

In a new report released on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that millions of women could be putting their developing baby at risk of “fetal alcohol syndrome”, warning women of childbearing age to avoid alcohol unless they are using contraception. “Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. “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?” The CDC report estimates that some 3.3 million women between the age of 15 and 33 who drink are sexually active but not on birth control, and says three out of four women who are trying to get pregnant continue drinking after they stop using birth control.

The CDC says there is no safe level of alcohol consumption at any point in the pregnancy, and warns that it can lead lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which encompass a range of behavioral, intellectual and physical disabilities and affects up to 1 in 20 school children. Mark DeFrancesco, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told USA Today that doctors 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.” The CDC estimates that alcohol use during pregnancy is costing the US economy $5.5 billion each year.

Read the full story at USA Today.

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