ImageWith a swipe of your credit card at the cost of $3.00, a machine in a Minnesota bar will dispense a pregnancy test in the ladies room to help you determine if you’re pregnant and if you are, you might want to rethink about having that drink.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a study that is sobering: 1 out of every 13 pregnant women drinks alcohol and of those who drink, 1 in 5 will consume 4 or more drinks per day. These statistics are both alarming and sad. According to CDC, 50.9% of adults 18 and over have had at least 12 drinks per year. But let’s return to the subject of pregnant women.

I get highly annoyed when my colleagues advise pregnant women that it’s “okay” to have a glass of wine a day while pregnant. It is not “okay” because we don’t have all the facts. Our U.S. Surgeon General of the United States and the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommend abstinence from alcohol for women planning pregnancy, at conception, and during pregnancy because “a safe level of prenatal alcohol consumption has not been determined.” I repeat: “a safe level of prenatal alcohol consumption has not been determined.”Canada, New Zealand, France and England recommend the same advice.

As yet, science has not established whether it’s safe to drink 1, 2, or 3 drinks during pregnancy or not. We know with certainty that drinking 4 or more drinks a day can cause problems. Perhaps there is confusion because some of the larger medical studies ruled out preterm labor and small babies if a pregnant woman has no more than 10 grams of pure alcohol per day which is equivalent to one drink. However, what they didn’t rule out or even test was whether there is an association between consuming 1 drink per day and alcohol related birth defects and fetal alcohol syndrome. It has been proven that alcohol consumption can have the following effect on children:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Inability to foresee consequences
  • Inappropriate or immature behavior
  • Lack of organization
  • Learning difficulties
  • Poor abstract thinking
  • Poor adaptability
  • Speech, language and other communication problems

According to Uptodate.com, “definitive information about the risks associated with light to moderate prenatal alcohol use remains unknown.” Ladies, why take the risk?

Should bars dispense pregnancy tests in their bathrooms? I say a resounding yes. A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen; it takes a smart mother who knows what to do.