Almost 8 percent of pregnant women report alcohol use, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study analyzed data from almost 14,000 pregnant women and more than 330,000 non-pregnant women ages 18 to 44. About one in 13 pregnant women, or 7.6 percent, said they drank alcohol within the past month, compared with 51.5 percent of non-pregnant women.
The researchers found 1.4 percent of pregnant women reported binge drinking. Among pregnant women who said they engaged in binge drinking, those with a high school education or less reported binge drinking an average of 3.4 times a month, and having 6.4 drinks per occasion. In contrast, college graduates reported binge drinking 2.5 times per month, with 5.4 drinks per occasion. Binge drinking was more common among unmarried women.
Alcohol use among pregnant women was highest among those ages 35 to 44, HealthDay reports.
The study authors note there is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy, which is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Drinking during pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol syndrome and other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause neurological problems and lifelong disabilities.
Public health interventions, such as increased alcohol taxes and limiting the number of alcohol outlets in neighborhoods, might help reduce alcohol misuse among women, the researchers said.