Speed Reads

women's health

CDC: All young women should refrain from drinking — unless they use contraception

In an effort to reduce instances of fetal alcohol syndrome, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised Tuesday that all young women ages 15 to 44 should avoid alcohol entirely unless they are using birth control. Yes, you read that right, ladies: According to the CDC the risk of an unplanned pregnancy is too great for women of childbearing age to drink if they're not using a contraceptive.

"Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant," CDC principal deputy director Anne Schuchat said. "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?"

The CDC reports that an estimated 3.3 million women who drink are sexually active but do not use birth control.