A new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell women that if they are not using contraceptives, they should not drink alcohol.
The CDC says more than 3 million woman in the U.S. are at risk of exposing their developing infants to alcohol because they are having sex, not using birth control and drinking.
Half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned and, even when planned, most women do not realize they are pregnant for between 4-6 weeks.
The newest recommendations emphasize that, "women even before they get pregnant, may be impacted by their alcohol use," said Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica, the Director of the OBGYN Center at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo.
Dr. Aronica said that questionnaires and maintaining communication with patients is very important.
"It's actually recommend that every patient, whether they're pregnant or not get screened -- how much alcohol do you use, do you use any at all, do you plan on becoming pregnant? Those types of questions have really decreased the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome," Aronica explained.
The CDC says if a woman can get pregnant or is trying to get pregnant, she should not be drinking at all to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome spectrum disorders, which include physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities that last a lifetime.
We checked and the Erie County Department of Health does not track the number of fetal alcohol syndrome cases. But there are numbers we do know:
- The lifetime cost for an infant with fetal alcohol syndrome has been estimated to be $2 million
- 10.2 percent of pregnant women report drinking any amount of alcohol during the past month and 3.1 percent report they binge drank (drank four or more drinks on one occasion)