As many as one in 13 women drinks alcohol while pregnant—despite warnings that alcohol could harm fetal brain development—according to a CDC study released Thursday.
The data, which was drawn from a larger study and collected between 2006 and 2010, measured the habits of almost 14,000 pregnant U.S. women. More than 7% of the women ages 18 to 44 said they had imbibed in the past 30 days and 1.4% said they had gone on a "binge" or had four drinks or more in one sitting.
Pregnant women ages 35 to 44 had the highest rate of alcohol use—more than 14% reported drinking.
Is drinking bad for the baby?
The number of pregnant women who drink has slightly decreased since CDC conducted a similar analysis 2005, when nearly 2% of pregnant women reported binge drinking. That study prompted the U.S. surgeon general to issue an advisory against all alcohol use for those who are pregnant or may become pregnant.
However, a Danish study released last month says children whose mothers drank up to eight alcoholic beverages in early-to-mid pregnancy showed no significant signs of mental problems at age five. Although the Danish study was funded by the CDC, the group continues to advocate complete alcohol abstinence while pregnant.
CDC's latest report says that all women misusing alcohol, pregnant or not, may benefit from public health interventions like higher alcohol excise taxes (CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 7/19; Muskal, AP/Los Angeles Times, 7/19; Kesmodel et al, BJOG, 6/2012).