RVA Parenting: Breaking Down new CDC Guidelines on women and alcohol

RVA Parenting: Breaking Down new CDC Guidelines on women and alcohol
CDC infographic
CDC infographic

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Have you seen the controversial new CDC guidelines regarding women and alcohol? It says alcohol can cause miscarriage, stillbirth,
prematurity, fetal alcohol syndrome, and SIDS. Even in women who are not pregnant, the new guidelines express concern.

Critics have been speaking strongly against a new infographic, put out by the organization.

Many say it is sexist or unreasonable, so we went straight to OBGYN to get the real scoop - and what you need to know.

Dr. Stephen Pound works as an OBGYN at Virginia Physicians for Women and he says, admittedly, the infographic came off as condescending.

"I think the take-home message is, 'I am more than just...,' and I'm saying me, but as a woman, you are more than just a vessel for a fetus, right? You're an independent person who can make independent decisions."

But, he asked us to back up and take a look at how the message came to be.

"I think the point was increasing awareness about alcohol use during pregnancy and with couples that are trying to conceive," explained Dr. Pound.

He says the information is based on a survey from 2011 to 2013.

"And what they got from that survey is up to 10 percent of women in pregnancy are drinking alcohol and up to three percent of women are binge drinking," said Pound. "Fetal alcohol syndrome is real and it can have consequences both in physical attributes and growth, social development, behavioral development. There's still additional education that's needed….and so there have been a couple guidelines and warnings that have come out over the years, and unfortunately, we're not only seeing a lack of response to that guideline. But we're seeing an increase in alcohol use."

In his practice, Dr. Pound says the new guidelines haven't changed much. He recommends any woman who goes off birth control and is actively trying to conceive, abstain from alcohol in the same way she might abstain from other harmful products - like ibuprofen. He says he talks to the men as well, because they are the other half of the equation. A half, he admits, was left out of the graphic.

The other takeaway, he says, is that there isn't any data that shows how many drinks are okay. Scientists aren't asking women to drink different amounts of alcohol while pregnant to gauge the "danger zone".

"We have no science to suggest one alcoholic drink is okay, 10 alcoholic drinks is okay, [or] one a night is okay, but two a night is not okay," explained Pound. "We just don't have that information. So, as a society, as a guideline, as a CDC, you end up putting out this really big blanket statement to maybe catch those few children that could have been helped otherwise. The CDC took an opportunity to increase awareness - if you could be pregnant, if you are pregnant, if you are trying to conceive, do not intake alcohol in any amount. Because the end message is the same. We don't know how much is too much."

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