1 in 13 Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol

By Amir Khan on July 22, 2012 5:54 PM EDT

Alcohol
Many pregnant women continue to drink alcohol, despite the plethora of information about the dangers of doing so, according to a new report (Photo: Reuters)

Many pregnant women continue to drink alcohol, despite the plethora of information about the dangers of doing so, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surprisingly, researchers found that older and more educated women are the most likely to drink while pregnant, the report says.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 340,000 women who self-reported their drinking habits. They found that approximately 1 In 13 women admit to drinking while pregnant, and one in four of those women binge drink.

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More than 7 percent of the pregnant women in the study reported drinking in the last 30 days. Women between the ages of 35 and 44 had the highest rate, at 14 percent.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and health experts strongly recommend that pregnant women abstain from alcohol use, as it can harm the baby's mental, physical and cognitive development.

"Pregnant and nonpregnant women of childbearing age who misuse alcohol might benefit from public health interventions ... such as increased alcohol excise taxes and limiting alcohol outlet density," the authors wrote.

Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs of the March of Dimes, told ABC News that some women mistakenly believe that there is a "safe" amount of alcohol they can drink.

"We know that alcohol is very seriously damaging," he said. "We don't know if there is any safe level of drinking, but that's a determination that will never be made."

Katz also said that pregnant women should completely stay away from alcohol.

"It's ludicrous to suggest that one should even look for a safe level of alcohol while pregnant," he said. "There is a danger that will always be there with alcohol. Unlike some other risks during pregnancy that are unavoidable, this one is. It is fully controllable and it is not such an enormous effort not to drink."

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