This month, FASD in Review examines national survey data reported on alcohol use by pregnant women from SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (as reported in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report titled “Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women of Childbearing Age — United States, 2011– 2013”).
- SAMHSA and CDC national surveys show increased use of alcohol and binge drinking in most recent data.
- Methodological and definitional issues may be resulting in underreporting of alcohol use during pregnancy (self-reports, late identification of pregnancy status, narrow age range to identify women of childbearing age, limited observation periods for alcohol use during pregnancy [30 day reporting periods], varying definitions of binge drinking and inconsistent definition for a “standard drink”).
- Healthy People 2020 includes national standards for measuring progress in achieving abstinence of alcohol use during pregnancy; baseline estimates derived from NSDUH data may underreport use based on the above methodological issues, resulting in potentially inflated indicators of progress.
- Improved national survey methodologies related to alcohol use during pregnancy would provide more accurate data on the extent of the problem and better guidance on efforts needed to reduce alcohol use during pregnancy.