Did The CDC Really Recommend All Women Stop Drinking?

posted: 02/04/16
by: TLCme
picture of women drinking

The CDC issued a new warning about alcohol consumption and women, and the reactions have ranged from bewilderment to panic to anger to confusion.

Most headlines say something to the effect of "CDC says all women should stop drinking immediately." And it's true that the recommendation does state that women who are of childbearing age shouldn't drink if they aren't using some form of birth control (which, coupled with their advisement that pregnant women shouldn't drink equates with a directive for all women to not drink, basically). Why? Because it could lead to an unintended risk of fetal alcohol syndrome should the woman get pregnant.

From the CDC's Vital Signs press release:

An estimated 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report released today.

Infographic courtesy CDC

So the key nuance here is that women who are sexually active and therefore have the potential to get pregnant are the ones the CDC has targeted with this warning.

The pendulum in the medical community seems to swing every few years or so from a quiet "a few drinks here and there is okay" to a "no drinking whatsoever" attitude, so we'll be interested to see how this all pans out in the end.