The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to women to avoid drinking if they are sexually active unless they are on contraceptives, in efforts to avoid alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
One out of 10 women who were pregnant reported some form of alcohol use, according to a study by the CDC. It is widely known alcohol is a teratogen — an agent or factor that causes malformation of an embryo. Any misuse of alcohol during pregnancy can cause problems for the fetus in its development. However, the CDC has released this warning because about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, according to a CDC press release.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, says most women will not know if they are pregnant for the first month or so, which is an important time frame because of the possibility women might still consume alcohol and risk Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Dis- order, according to the press release.
“Take care of the unplanned part, and it solves everything the CDC addresses.”
– Melissa Holcomb, nursing professor
Holcomb said it is important for women to understand and practice fertility management. Because alcohol is a known teratogen, it is important to take necessary precautions to prevent unplanned pregnancies, she says.
“If you aren’t planning on getting pregnant, please use the most effective form of birth control that is most tolerable to you,” Holcomb says .
However, Holcomb says it also is important for men and women to be responsible and educated if taking part in sexual activity.
Holcomb says if a woman suspects she is pregnant and it is unplanned, she should take a test to determine if she is pregnant or not, then seek care and consult a doctor to determine the full range of her options. She says alcohol does not need to influence a decision to continue a pregnancy if it was consumed around the time of conception.
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