Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Pregnant People in the United States

Nearly 14% (or 1 in 7) pregnant people* reported current drinking and about 5% (or 1 in 20) reported binge drinking in the past 30 days, according to a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Alcohol use during pregnancy continues to be a serious problem. Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause birth defects and developmental disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and might increase the risk for miscarriage and stillbirth. Screening for alcohol use combined with brief counseling by primary care providers, integration of mental health services, improved access to care, and community-based interventions might reduce alcohol use during pregnancy and the risk for poor pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Read the full scientific article.

Main Findings

Alcohol use during pregnancy 1 in 20

In a new MMWR article, CDC researchers found

  • Nearly 1 in 7 pregnant people reported current drinking, meaning at least one drink of any alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days.
  • About 1 in 20 pregnant people reported binge drinking, meaning four or more drinks on one occasion at least once in the past 30 days.
  • Pregnant people 25–34 years were less likely to report current drinking than those aged 35–49 years. College educated, employed, and unmarried pregnant people were more likely to report current drinking.
  • A new finding in this report is that pregnant people who experienced frequent mental distress (14 or more days of poor mental health in the past 30 days) and those who did not have a usual healthcare provider were more likely to report alcohol use.
  • Overall, these prevalence estimates are consistent with slightly increasing trends in current and binge drinking observed in the same survey since 2011. However, alcohol use among pregnant people was not higher in 2020 than in 2019, despite some evidence of increased alcohol sales and consumption among the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

*People who reported their sex at birth as female were asked if they were currently pregnant.

About this Study

  • The study uses self-reported data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based, landline and cellphone survey of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over.
  • To estimate current drinking and binge drinking for pregnant people aged 18–49 years, data from the 2018–2020 BRFSS were analyzed for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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