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Don’t drink if you’re not on birth control, women told

Women shouldn’t drink unless they are on birth control because they run the risk of getting pregnant and damaging their unborn child, a prominent health group has claimed.

The risk of drinking when pregnant is well-documented, but should this fear be spread to women who aren’t pregnant? (Photo: Wiki)

The Centres for Disease Control, a US government health body, has said that 3.3 million sexually active women who aren’t on birth control should completely refrain from drinking.

It also said that any women, even those who are not on birth control, should strictly monitor their drinking or they run the risk of “unintended pregnancies”.

The CDC defines excessive drinking as having just eight drinks a week – little more than one medium glass of wine per day.

Four drinks over the course of two to three hours is also considered “binge drinking” for women in the US.

One of the report’s four key recommendations to women includes: “Stop drinking alcohol if you are trying to get pregnant or could get pregnant.”

“Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said in a statement accompanying the report.

“About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking. The risk is real. Why take the chance?”

Critics have taken issue with the CDC’s Alcohol and Pregnancy report, saying that it shames those women who choose to drink occasionally.

They have also condemned the suggestion that women who drink occasionally without being on birth control are acting carelessly.

Jia Tolentino, writing for women’s rights blog Jezebel, said: “To extend this idea [that women who are pregnant shouldn’t drink] to women who might become pregnant just because they are alive and unmedicated – or to phrase the recommendation with a basic disregard for the facts of how women live – suggests the same old idea that all women are either future, current, past or broken incubators, and that is their body’s primary use.”

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