The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an announcement on Tuesday Feb. 2 advising women who are not on birth control to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages.
The report references an increase of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosis in American infants. The disease occurs when a woman drinks too much alcohol while she is pregnant, according to The New York Times.
The CDC cited 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 who drink alcohol while not using birth control that could potentially risk exposing their infants to the disorder.
“Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a statement. “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?”
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may result in low birth weight, abnormal features, poor coordination, behavior problems and issues with sight and hearing, according to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Headlines appeared quickly on national news websites, showcasing members of society angrily protesting the CDC.
The opinions of some even called their advice “sexist and condescending,” according to CBS News.
In an opinion piece for The Los Angeles Times, Jessica Roy wrote, “You may think you’re just another carefree young woman, casually sipping mimosas at brunch or having a glass of wine at the end of a long day. But you’re not. According to the CDC’s new recommendation, you’re a potential fetal incubator — a fact you should be aware of, and planning around, at all times.”
For decades, experts have researched what effect, if any, alcohol consumption has on a growing fetus.
According to CBS News, most experts agree that the over-consumption of alcohol leads to major birth defects, but they are are still testing whether limitations of drinking would cause substantial problems.
“While the excessive use of alcohol during pregnancy clearly has a harmful effect on unborn children, advising all fertile women to avoid any alcohol simply isn’t a realistic solution to this public health problem,” Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, said.
Social media exploded when users chimed in stating that it felt like the CDC comments were offensive to women, specifically women in the younger generation.
According to the posts, many commenters felt they were being judged by their age and the way they chose to have children, according to The Kansas City Star.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, CBS News, The Los Angeles Times and The Kansas City Star was used in this report.