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The Centers for Disease Control released a report Tuesday saying that all sexually active women of childbearing age who are not using contraceptives should avoid consuming alcohol — even if they are not yet pregnant — and women across the Internet are just not having it.
Why the highly cautious recommendation? "The risk is real," CDC principal director Anne Schuchat said in a statement, because an estimated 3.3 million women who consume alcohol are at risk for exposing their babies to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
"Alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child's lifetime," the CDC report says, and there's no "safe" amount of consumption for any stage of pregnancy, according to doctors.
The report also says that three in four women intending to get pregnant fail to stop drinking when they stop using contraception. And since about half of pregnancies are unplanned and many women don't even know they're actually pregnant until they're at least four to six weeks in, drinking during that crucial time—when the fetus is developing its organs and brain—could lead to anything from potential miscarriage to fetal alcohol syndrome.
So is that second- or third-trimester glass of wine on girls' night out no longer a thing? Or what about a cocktail on date night with your husband?
Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, acknowledged to reporters this warning might be a tough sell for many women, and that alcohol is often a component in sexual activity. (Duh. You can pry my glass of wine from my cold, dead hands if you think I'm not going to drink wine when I'm not pregnant or trying to get pregnant.) But many doctors agree that cutting alcohol consumption (for both men and women) while trying to conceive can help improve fertility and the chances that you'll get pregnant.
Interestingly, a 2012 CDC report found that older, more educated women were more likely to drink during pregnancy than younger, less-educated moms-to-be. In October 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report saying "no amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy." And, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists support the CDC's new recommendation, too.
Although many of the CDC's recommendations in this report may seem like common sense to protect your unborn child if you're trying to get pregnant or already are pregnant, a lot of women voiced disagreement on social media. Here's what women on Twitter thought about the CDC's recommendation to abstain from drinking, even if not yet pregnant:
Does the CDC have a fun pamphlet about how dangerous alcohol use is for male gun owners? No? Just for young women? Cool.