Is there a known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy?

Please read and reflect on the following recommendation issued in February 2016 by the CDC in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2011-2013. (Reference is listed as #62 on p. 136 of PHB)

Three in four women who wanted to get pregnant as soon as possible reported drinking alcohol, putting them at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. Any sexually active woman of reproductive age who is drinking alcohol and not using birth control is at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

To help prevent adverse consequences of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, health care providers should discuss and recommend, as appropriate, available contraception methods to women who are sexually active and drink alcohol.

Additionally, from your reading of the NIH fact sheet you know that the ramifications of drinking during pregnancy can lead to a full spectrum “of developmental, cognitive, and behavioral problems, which can appear at any time during childhood and last a lifetime” and that this “Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the United States.” This clearly places the issue within the realm of public health biology.

There is a lot to unfold here. Please share your thoughts. Please include answers to at least four (4) of the following issues in your initial post.

a. Is there a known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy?

b. How would you respond to someone who claims to have consumed alcohol during all of their pregnancies with no ill effects to their kids and thus does not believe this claim?

c. How does this impact woman who are sexually active and not necessarily planning on getting pregnant?

d. Do you think this is a significant public health concern?

e. Do you think the CDC’s message was controversial?

f. One of the major challenges that we face as public health professionals is to develop and disseminate messages that address risky health behaviors. As we have discussed throughout the course, messaging with an eye on compliance is a fundamental requirement, but can also be very tricky. Given what we have learned about the biology of pregnancy, embryology, and prenatal care, suggest alternative public health strategies for addressing this issue in the United States.

g. Much focus is placed on the behaviors of a pregnant woman, pre-pregnancy and during the pregnancy. What about the behavior of the biological father pre and post conception? Might these have an effect on the growing fetus? Is alcohol consumption by the biological father preconception an issue from a biological standpoint?

h. Can you think of other examples of pre-pregnancy preparations for the biological parents? Should these be addressed by public health professionals?

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