The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all women of childbearing age to stop drinking if they are not using birth control.
In a new report by the agency, about 3.3 million women are at risk of harming their future babies because of their drinking habits and sexual activity.
The question is why is this recommended when a woman is not even pregnant yet?
A Woman's Body: Carrier Of Human Life
The CDC says a woman may get pregnant without her knowing and still continue to drink alcohol during the first weeks of pregnancy. This then puts her hypothetical baby at risk of developing birth defects and serious health complications.
The message is that women should consider their bodies as carriers of human life. They should not do things that could possibly harm their future baby's health.
Preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)
Disabilities sustained as a result of mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy are collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
At present, there have been no known recognized safe levels of alcohol during pregnancy. With that being said, the CDC and other medical groups recommend expectant mothers to just abstain from drinking entirely.
Once conception occurs, the body of a woman changes. No matter how little the amount of alcohol a woman drinks, it may result in serious and lasting physical, mental, behavioral and intellectual impairments to the child, according to experts.
"Every woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant – and her partner – want a healthy baby," says Coleen Boyle from the CDC. "But they may not be aware that drinking any alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can cause a range of disabilities for their child."
Boyle adds that it is important for health care providers to be involved. She suggests health staff to assess the drinking habits of all women during routine health checks and advise her to stop drinking if she is pregnant, trying to have a baby or is not on birth control.
Critics Speak Up About Hypothetical Possibilities
Wendy Kline from Purdue University says the recommendation is shaming and blaming. For her, it recommends women to think about themselves as potential mothers first, instead of individuals who have rights and a sense of identity.
Other critics say that having no sex or abstaining from alcohol is a little price to pay. However, imploring the health of a baby that is still hypothetical in essence is a different thing.
Photo : Keoni Cabral | Flickr