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Significant Drinking Among Pregnant Women Reportedly Increases 400% in 4 Years


May-June 1997

The rates of drinking among pregnant women have gone up since 1991, according to a telephone survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 1,313 women surveyed in 1995, 3.5% admitted to having had more than seven drinks a week or more than five drinks at one time during the previous month. Only 0.8% of the 1,053 women surveyed in 1991 said the same (Associated Press, "More U.S. Women Drink While Pregnant, Study Says," Washington Post, April 25, 1997, p. A17).

Translated to the nationwide population, the data suggests that 140,000 mothers-to-be were frequent drinkers in 1995, as compared to 32,000 women in 1991. Drinking while pregnant significantly increases the risk that the child will be born with fetal alcohol syndrome, a very serious birth defect. The survey suggests that more obstetricians need to talk to their patients about alcohol. The researchers were unable to explain the increase.