Drinking Among Pregnant Women Up in U.S.

MORE THAN 1 IN 9 pregnant women in the U.S. drink alcohol while pregnant, and about 4 percent binge drink, according to new survey estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Estimates of current drinking and binge drinking among pregnant women in 2015-2017 were both slightly higher than in 2011-2013 – when the figures were 10.2% and 3.1%, respectively – according to a new report from the CDC published Thursday. Drinking alcohol at any time while pregnant can be dangerous for fetal development, the CDC says.


Women who binge drink before pregnancy are more likely to do so during pregnancy, the researchers noted, citing a previous study. According to the new report, among pregnant women who said they had binged on alcohol in the last month, the average number of binge drinking episodes was 4.5. On average, the highest number of drinks consumed on one occasion was six.

The researchers defined binge drinking as having four or more drinks on one occasion or more in the past 30 days, and current drinking as having at least one alcoholic drink in the past 30 days.

“Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders,” the report says. Alcohol in the mother’s blood that passes through the umbilical cord to the fetus can lead to physical issues, behavioral problems and intellectual disability.

“There is no known safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant,” the CDC says.

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