Nearly Eight Percent of Pregnant Women Use Alcohol Says CDC

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is probably one of the most debated topics in the United States regarding pregnancy health and safety. While some physicians say that a few drinks are okay, others say that no amount of alcohol is safe. Why the controversy? No one really knows, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe, and choosing to drink during pregnancy can lead to serious consequences for the developing fetus.

Children exposed to alcohol while in utero are at risk for both Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Both can result in, deformities, neurological problems, and lifelong disabilities in children. No one really knows just how much alcohol it takes to cause FASD in a child, and some women with children who have FASDs consumed very little alcohol while pregnant. This is what makes the recent report from the CDC so disturbing.

Researchers from the CDC analyzed national data from 2006 to 2010 on nearly 14,000 pregnant women and more than 330,000 non-pregnant women, all between the ages of 18 and 44. According to the results, about 7.6 percent of pregnant women stated that they had consumed alcohol within the last month. This was compared to 51.5 percent of non-pregnant women.

Women most likely to consume alcohol during pregnancy were those that were between the ages of 35 and 44 (14.3 percent), women who were college graduates (10 percent), women who were employed (9.6 percent), and women who were white (8.3 percent).

Researchers also found that about 1.4 percent of pregnant women had reported binge drinking. Binge drinking averages, while the same for both pregnant and non-pregnant women (about six drinks per occasion and about 3 times per month), are much more unsettling for the women that are pregnant. However, researchers noted that women who had reported being binge drinkers before pregnancy were more likely to be binge drinkers during pregnancy. So this may be something that women want to seek help for before becoming pregnant.

There were also some other links found with binge drinkers, including lower levels of education and being unmarried. Women that had a high school education or lower, for example, reported binge drinking 3.4 times per month and having 6.4 drinks per occasion, while women that had graduated college binge drank 2.5 times per month and had 5.4 drinks per occasion. Women that were unmarried had a frequency of 3.3 times per month and 6.4 drinks per occasion while married women binge drank 2.6 times per month and drank 5.4 drinks per month.

The study authors suggested public health interventions for women that misuse alcohol. They also suggested some public health interventions, such as increased alcohol taxes and limitations on the number of alcohol sellers in neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the reality is that in the U.S. alcohol can be found in nearly every grocery store, as well as most convenience stores. It is my personal opinion that education is the best approach, and that education needs to start with physicians agreeing on no alcohol during pregnancy. After all, pregnancy only lasts for ten months. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until after pregnancy to go out with friends and have a few drinks, just as long as you remember that alcohol does transfer through to breast milk.

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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