Survey: 10 percent of pregnant women drink

A new survey by federal researchers reveals 10 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. admit to drinking alcohol and 3 percent – or a third of those who drink – admit to binge drinking.

“We know that alcohol use during pregnancy can cause birth defects and developmental disabilities in babies, as well as an increased risk of other pregnancy problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and prematurity,” Coleen Boyle, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a news release. “This is an important reminder that women should not drink any alcohol while pregnant. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at a survey of more than 200,000 women taken from 2011 to 2013 for the report. The survey included more than 8,000 women who were pregnant.

Nearly 19 percent of the pregnant women 35 to 44 years old admitted to having at least one drink while pregnant. Thirteen percent of college graduates and 13 percent of unmarried women also said they had at least one drink, according to the CDC.

Those numbers compare with about 54 percent of non-pregnant women 18 to 44 years old who reported having an alcoholic drink in the previous 30 days and 18 percent who reported binge drinking (four or more drinks in a single session), according to the CDC.

But the pregnant women who admitted to binge drinking admitted to doing so 4.6 times in the previous 30 days, compared to three times in a month for non-pregnant women.

“One possible explanation for this might be that women who binge drink during pregnancy are more likely to be alcohol-dependent than the average female binge drinker, and therefore binge drink more frequently,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers issued a reminder to women who are, or think they might be, pregnant: There is no known safe level of alcohol that can be consumed at any time during pregnancy. All alcohol should be avoided.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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