AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The C.D.C. is now advising women ages 15 to 44 years old not to consume alcohol at all if they're not using birth control to prevent pregnancy.
Alcohol can harm a developing baby before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
That's why the C.D.C. suggests abstaining from drinking for women trying to become pregnant, or those not using contraceptives.
Their newest report states more than three million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking and not using birth control. Also, three out of four women who are trying to get pregnant as soon as possible report drinking alcohol.
"I know this is the popular thought that a small amount [of alcohol] can't hurt," said Dr. Robert Kauffman, Director of Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. "The best data shows that small amounts can have an adverse affect on the newborn's development."
Up to one in 20 US school children may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which range from physical to behavioral and last a lifetime.
Many of these disorders are not apparent at first, but develop later on.
"They may have very subtle behavioral changes, very subtle learning differences that may not manifest until several years after birth," said Kauffman. "So they're probably very subtle forms of fetal alcohol syndrome that go undetected in normal clinical practice."
And as much as alcohol can harm a pregnancy, it can also affect sexually active women in other serious ways.
"A higher pregnancy rate, sexual assault and also several chronic diseases," said Kauffman. "Not only the typical diseases we hear about like liver disease, but also with breast cancer and other forms of cancer, and also obesity."
The C.D.C. reminds women that if they avoid alcohol, FASD are 100% preventable.