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CDC: 3.3 million women risking alcohol-exposed pregnancies :

February 2, 2016

More than 3 million women who could become pregnant report drinking alcohol, potentially harming their baby, a new study found.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., called the risks “completely preventable.”

We know alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) which are physical, behavioral and intellectual, disabilities that last a lifetime,” she said.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause intellectual, physical and behavioral disabilities in a baby.Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause intellectual, physical and behavioral disabilities in a baby.

In a 2015 clinical report Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, the Academy said that during pregnancy no amount or type of alcohol is safe.

That includes the month or more when a woman may not realize she is pregnant, especially if it was not planned. Still, about 3.3 million sexually active women age 15-44 drank alcohol while not on birth control, including about 75% of women who were trying to get pregnant, according to the CDC report “Vital Signs: Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies – United States, 2011-2013” published in Tuesday’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancy was highest among women ages 25-29 (10.4%) and lowest among those age 15-20 (2.2%), the report said. Women who were married or cohabitating were at higher risk than those who were single.

As many as 1 in 20 school children may have FASDs, according to the CDC. The Academy and CDC both recommend that health care providers screen patients for alcohol use, especially women who may become pregnant, and educate them about the risks.

“This is one of those interventions that’s effective and cost effective and easy to apply,” Dr. Schuchat said.

For pediatricians that means talking to teen patients as well as women, who already are mothers preparing to have another child.

“Certainly the same things would apply as for (previous pregnancies),” said Kristi L. Watterberg, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Fetus and Newborn. “Which is no alcohol and get your vitamins started before you become pregnant.”

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