1 in 13 Women Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy, CDC Reports

By Chelsea Whyte on July 20, 2012 12:38 AM EDT

wine cork
There's no safe amount of alcohol to drink while you're pregnant, but 1 in 13 women report that they do, according to the CDC. (Photo: Creative Commons: derekGavey)

A new government survey released Thursday revealed that almost 8 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol and sometimes even go on binges.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in children. An investigation into the drinking habits of pregnant women found that 1 in 13 pregnant women drink, and of those, almost 1 in 5 reported binge drinking - having four or more drinks in about two hours.

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Researchers examined self-reports on drinking habits from 345,076 women ages 18 to 44 years old who were a part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data pool collected from 2006 to 2010. Of these women, 13,880 - or 4 percent - were pregnant.

Those who were most likely to report alcohol use during pregnancy were between the ages of 35 and 44 (14 percent of pregnant women), white (8 percent), college graduates (10 percent) and were employed (almost 10 percent), reports CBS News.

"These results indicate that binge drinking during pregnancy continues to be a concern," wrote the researchers, led by the CDC's Claire M. Marchetta. Previous animal studies have suggested that binge drinking is more dangerous to fetal brain development than a more continuous drinking pattern, even if the total amount of alcohol is consumed less, according to the CDC report.

On the plus side, binge drinking among pregnant women is down slightly since a similar study was done in the early 2000s, according to The Huffington Post.

There is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy, the authors noted, according to U.S. News & World Report. The study authors said pregnant and non-pregnant women of childbearing age who misuse alcohol might benefit from public health interventions such as increased alcohol taxes and limiting the number of alcohol outlets in neighborhoods.

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