Reports had it that the CDC told fertile women to quit drinking, but not really, as their words were unfortunately twisted in the most insensitive way. Welcome to 2016.
- The CDC reported that 3.3 million women risk exposing their unborn children to alcohol
- 3 out of 4 women report that they continue drinking even after they started trying to conceive
- Officials warned that alcohol can have a negative impact on the child no matter the stage of the pregnancy
The media took a bit of news and apparently blew it out of proportions, by separating context and not truly paying attention to the underlining message. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has given them ammunition and they’re now clearly in the line of fire. However, it appears that their intention was misinterpreted and that their point was not to control every woman, but warn prospective mothers. Though they likely could do a bit more work on their press releases.
The CDC released a new study, stating that 3.3. million women are risking the health of their unborn children through alcohol-exposed pregnancies. That can lead to several unfortunate conditions for the child, such as organ failure, brain damage, low IQ, learning disabilities, or full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Even more, 3 out of 4 women admit to continue drinking even though they are trying to get pregnant. It has led the CDC to estimate that 7.3% of fertile women between the ages of 15 to 44 years old are at risk of exposing their unborn children to alcohol, whether they know they are pregnant or not. Their advice? All women should just stop drinking if they’re having sex without being on birth control.
That is a painfully ridiculous notion. The outrage is well deserved. It essentially implies that women of child-bearing age should’ve not had that glass of wine in the 30 days before having sex with their own husband or other partner. However, it’s also not what the CDC said.
According to their findings, there are numerous women who express their desire to conceive and yet continue drinking “immediately”. The message was intended for the 3 out 4 women who continue enjoying a drink or two while actively trying to conceive a child. Their point was to emphasize the fact that alcohol consumption can negatively affect the child at any stage during the pregnancy. So, even if you’ve just started trying, there is still a risk for FAS.
While they “definitely” didn’t mean to make any recommendations for women who are pre-pregnant, their message implied those who were unaware that they are pregnant or if the pregnancy was unintended. Their manner of delivery was flawed and their advice misconstrued. Anne Schuchat from the CDC essentially stated that most women won’t know that they are pregnant within the first month, so why take the risk by indulging in alcohol?
There are several reason for it, including a whole slew of factors that can result in FAS independent of the mother’s drinking habits. This includes nutrition, body fat, economic status, family size, and, of course, genetics. Having one glass of wine won’t likely affect the prospective mother. However, there’s no point in risking it if she’s actively trying to get pregnant. That’s most likely what the officials meant.
It is unfortunate that matters do seem to get blown out of proportions sometimes, but the CDC made a blunder as well by not properly expressing their message. Women who are trying to get pregnant are already under enough pressure by having everyone offer unasked for yet well-meaning advice about what to wear, eat, drink, do, and feel for the health of their child. And, a lot of the times, separate sources contradict themselves.
Image source: mirror.co.uk