CDC: Without Birth Control, Don't Mix Sex and Alcohol

News in Context |
February 17, 2016

CDC: Without Birth Control, Don't Mix Sex and Alcohol

  1. Anna Wald, MD, MPH

Improving availability of highly effective reversible contraception is a better path to enhancing women's reproductive health.

  1. Anna Wald, MD, MPH

Surveillance studies suggest that more than half of reproductive-aged women drink alcohol; moreover, as many as 30% report consuming ≥1 drink at some point during pregnancy. Now, the CDC has issued a recommendation that sexually active women who are not using contraception should not drink alcohol. The new recommendation is based on data showing that only 50% of U.S. pregnancies are planned, most women who are trying to become pregnant do not stop drinking alcohol, and there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

These recommendations were met with social media responses described in the New York Times as “mocking to incredulous”. The pushback is based on the perception that the recommendations are patronizing and cast women merely as potential baby-incubators. While the detrimental effects of alcohol on the developing fetus are well documented, there is still substantial uncertainty about the effects of an occasional drink during pregnancy.

Comment

I have difficulty with this recommendation to disallow alcohol consumption for all women who are heterosexually active and not using birth control, as their pregnancy intentions are probably complex. Improved availability and affordability of highly effective reversible contraception is a better path to enhancing women's reproductive health and achieving the goal of healthy babies.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Anna Wald, MD, MPH at time of publication Consultant / Advisory board AiCuris; Merck (DSMB); Amgen Royalties UpToDate Grant / Research support NIH/NCI; NIH/NIAID.; Genocea Biosciences; Vical; Gilead

Citation(s):

Your Comment

(will not be published)

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Do you have any conflict of interest to disclose?
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

* Required

Reader comments are intended to encourage lively discussion of clinical topics with your peers in the medical community. We ask that you keep your remarks to a reasonable length, and we reserve the right to withhold publication of remarks that do not meet this standard.

PRIVACY: We will not use your email address, submitted for a comment, for any other purpose nor sell, rent, or share your e-mail address with any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy.