Alcohol use and binge drinking among women of childbearing age - United States, 2011-2013

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015 Sep 25;64(37):1042-6. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6437a3.


Excessive alcohol use is risk factor for a wide range of health and social problems including liver cirrhosis, certain cancers, depression, motor vehicle crashes, and violence. Alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and other adverse birth outcomes . Community studies estimate that as many as 2% to 5% of first grade students in the United States might have an FASD, which include physical, behavioral, or learning impairments. In 2005, the Surgeon General reissued an advisory urging women who are or might be pregnant to abstain from alcohol consumption to eliminate the risk for FASDs or other negative birth outcomes. To estimate current prevalences of any alcohol use and binge drinking (consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) among pregnant and nonpregnant women aged 18-44 years in the United States, CDC analyzed 2011-2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. Among pregnant women, the prevalences of any alcohol use and binge drinking in the past 30 days were 10.2% and 3.1%, respectively. Among nonpregnant women, the prevalences of any alcohol use and binge drinking in the past 30 days were 53.6% and 18.2%, respectively. Among binge drinkers, pregnant women reported a significantly higher frequency of binge drinking than nonpregnant women (4.6 and 3.1 episodes, respectively); the largest amount consumed during binge drinking was also higher among pregnant women than nonpregnant women (7.5 versus 6.0 drinks), although this difference was not statistically significant. Implementation of evidence-based clinical and community-level strategies would be expected to reduce binge drinking among pregnant women and women of childbearing age, and any alcohol consumption among women who are or might be pregnant. Healthcare professionals can support these efforts by implementing alcohol screening and brief interventions in their primary care practices, and informing women that there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption when they are pregnant or might be pregnant.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult