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Alcohol and Pregnancy: Why Take the Risk?

Summary: 
There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy.

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which are physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that last a lifetime. There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy.

About 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report. Also, about 3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant as soon as possible report drinking alcohol.

“Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “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?”

So, what can be done?

Women can

  • talk with their health care provider about their plans for pregnancy, their alcohol use, and ways to prevent pregnancy if they are not planning to get pregnant; and
  • stop drinking alcohol if they are trying to get pregnant or could get pregnant.

Health care providers can

  • assess a woman’s drinking; and
  • advise a woman to stop drinking if she is trying to get pregnant or could get pregnant.

To learn more, visit the Vital Signs Alcohol and Pregnancy web page.

Drinking too much can have many risks for women. Read more from the latest #VitalSigns → http://1.usa.gov/20ExRgj via @HHSgov

 

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