- Posted by Austin Swim
- On February 1, 2016
- 0 Comments
Research recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) has revealed that significant numbers of pregnant women are not only drinking but also binge drinking. The research drew data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which gathered the data with landline and cell phone surveys.
The most startling piece of data found concerned the rate at which women drink during pregnancy: an estimated 10% of pregnant women in the U.S. ages 18 to 44 have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Additionally, 3.1% of pregnant women actually reported binge drinking within the past 30 days. (Binge drinking for women is defined as having four or more alcoholic beverages within two hours.) This means that roughly a third of women who drink during pregnancy actually engage in binge drinking.
These numbers are comparable to typical binge drinking percentages, as about 53.6% of non-pregnant women report drinking within the past 30 days, and 18.2% of non-pregnant women report binge drinking within the past 30 days. So about a third of non-pregnant drinkers report binge drinking, as well.
The difference, however, lies in how frequently pregnant women vs. non-pregnant women binge drink in these 30-day time frames. Pregnant women, for example, have an average of 4.6 binge drinking episodes within 30 days, while non-pregnant women have only about 3.1 episodes during this time frame. The CDC speculates that this could be because women who binge drink during pregnancy are more likely to be alcohol dependent than the average female binge drinker.
Among pregnant women, those most likely to be drinking are those aged 35 to 44 (18.6%), college graduates (13%), and unmarried women (12.9%).
These numbers are alarming considering the high risks that drinking during pregnancy will pose on the unborn child. According to the CDC, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects, developmental problems, miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery. It could also result in the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), a group of conditions that can manifest as physical, behavioral, and/or learning difficulties. It is estimated that 2 to 5% of first graders have an FASD. For these reasons, Coleen Boyle, PhD, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, urges women to avoid alcohol altogether during pregnancy. “It’s just not worth the risk,” she says.