CDC Finds 1 in 13 Pregnant Women Drink, Rates Highest Among Older & Educated

According to data recently released by the CDC, 8% of pregnant women reported drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Researchers looked at national data from 2006 to 2010 on nearly 14,000 pregnant women between the ages 18 to 44.  One in 13 said they drank alcohol within the past month.

Pregnant women aged 35-44 were the group most likely to have consumed alcohol within the last month (14%); then college grads (10%); employed (9.6%) and white women (8%). Consuming alcohol within the last month could, of course, involve sips of wine at dinner.

A small percentage (1.4%) of the women who consumed any alcohol reported “binge drinking.” 

Binge drinking intensity was, on average, higher among pregnant women without a high school education. This population reported binge drinking 3.4 times a month, having about 6 drinks at one time whereas college grads who reported binge drinking did so 2.5 times a month, consuming 5.4 drinks at a time. (Study authors note that self-reporting is not entirely reliable when it comes to this topic.)

Via US “The study authors said pregnant and non-pregnant women of childbearing age who misuse alcohol might benefit from public health interventions such as increased alcohol taxes and limiting the number of alcohol outlets in neighborhoods.” Hmm.

How about treatment for pregnant alcoholics? I don’t think binge drinking/alcoholic mothers want any harm done to their babies. Having to drive that extra mile to the liquor store doesn’t constitute “support” in my opinion. Taxes may make a dent in regular consumption but from what I’ve read women who drink lots at once sometimes do so because they can’t afford it–alcohol is only available in large quantities only on random, lucky occasions.

I recently wrote about five studies published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gyneacology (BJOG) showing that moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy had no impact on the behavior/intellect on five year-olds. Now, I know this is hugely controversial and I completely understand flat-out abstaining while pregnant in order to “be sure” that no harm is done. But it does seem that the data, time and again, suggests we might be better off focusing our efforts on early intervention and alcohol treatment for women who really need it than harping on about the bulk of pregnant women who may have a drink here or there.




Ceridwen Morris (CCE) is a certified childbirth educator and co-author of the pregnancy and birth guide From The Hips. Follow her pregnancy and birth blogging on Facebook.


Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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