CDC: No birth control, no booze

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a health alert to all women in their childbearing years to not drink unless they're on birth control.

The CDC said more than 3 million women in the United States risk having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. Additionally, the CDC said that half of the pregnancies in America are unplanned, so if a woman of childbearing age is either trying to get pregnant or not using birth control, she should avoid all alcohol.

Dr. Vandana Bhide at the Mayo Clinic sides with the findings and says drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which is characterized by lifelong physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities in children.

"The safest thing is to drink no alcohol whatsoever during pregnancy," said Bhide.

But it's not that most women are intentionally drinking while pregnant; the risk happens before people even know it.

"What happens, though, is some women don't know that they're pregnant and so they may be drinking alcohol during the time where they are trying to get pregnant or they don't quite know that they're pregnant yet," said Bhide.

News4Jax took the study to Jacksonville's streets and many women agreed that drinking shouldn't take place when trying to conceive.

"I think there's a little bit of a larger issue when it comes to just saying that women in childbearing years in general shouldn't be drinking in case that happens. I think it comes down to education and that you need to be aware of what choices you're making when it comes to your sexual activity and how that aligns with your drinking," Maggie Dobek said.

"I agree. If you're trying to conceive you probably should definitely take your alcohol intake into consideration. Maybe not completely cut it out but maybe a glass of wine here, a glass of wine there," said Shaina Tillman. 

"But if you're planning to conceive, doctors say even one glass of wine is too much since most women don't know they're pregnant until they're four to six weeks along," said Tillman.

"You have to avoid it completely. And the good news is fetal alcohol syndrome can be completely prevented if women of childbearing age, who are not having any kind of birth control-- 'we're trying to get pregnant'  avoid alcohol," said Dr. Bhide.

According to the CDC report, drinking while pregnant can also increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, and sudden infant death syndrome. For more information about this health alert, visit their website.