Last week, the brainiacs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to piss off every female in America by telling them that if they drink alcohol they must, MUST, take birth control, because apparently women are wildly irresponsible and prone to surprise pregnancies. Mostly, the CDC is worried that you’ll unknowingly get pregnant and continue your hard partying, boozehound habits well into the pregnancy, resulting in a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Look, FAS is a terrible condition that affects the most innocent. It’s an entirely preventable disease that afflicts 40,000 babies each year. Feel free to freak out about those sad statistics. But what really causes FAS? Is it that glass of wine you enjoyed before you knew you were pregnant? Is it that occasional beer you drank during and while knowing you were pregnant? Or is it the binge drinking that some women do while pregnant?
Well, sadly, there’s no agreement on the causes of FAS. As Tracy Clark-Flory noted in her piece on this subject for Vocative:
“Thousands of papers have demonstrated that alcohol can harm fetal development, causing everything from low birth weight to developmental abnormalities—but other research has found no proof that light drinking during pregnancy causes harm.”
That’s frustrating for pregnant women or for those wanting to become pregnant. And while there’s no firm answer on what dose of alcohol causes FAS, I think there’s a fair amount of hard research as well as anecdotal evidence that gives women a pretty good sense of the reality of drinking during pregnancy. And while I’m never one to suggest anecdotes equal evidence, I think on this issue, a little motherly advice might be warranted:
Here’s mine: I was teetotal during my first two pregnancies and by my third, I allowed myself a few drinks. A glass of champagne on my birthday, a Guinness during my second trimester and an occasional glass of red wine in the last months. This is light drinking and there’s no scientific evidence that this was irresponsible behavior on my part. Needless to say, my children do not suffer from FAS.
My story is hardly unique. Visit the EU and you’ll commonly see pregnant women sipping wine with dinner, as a normal part of the culture and without damaging their babies.
Sometimes when agencies make ludicrous, unrealistic recommendations like this, it’s better to tune them out. That’s sad. The CDC should be a source of reliable information for women but on this topic, they’re simply not helpful.
Do the right thing when you’re pregnant: Don’t binge drink and don’t drink regularly. Take care of the life you’re carrying. That’s the priority but ignore the hysterical prohibitionists at the CDC.
#FreakoutFriday is a proud collaboration between The American Spectator and the Independent Womens’ Forum.