Objective: To examine trends in alcohol use among pregnant women in the United States and to characterize pregnant women who use alcohol, with an emphasis on frequent use (at least five drinks per occasion or at least seven drinks per week).
Methods: We used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 1988 through 1995 to obtain the percentage of pregnant women who used alcohol. We used multiple logistic models to identify subgroups of pregnant women who are at increased risk for alcohol use.
Results: Overall, 14.6% (869 of 5983) of pregnant women consumed alcohol and 2.1% (133 of 5983) consumed alcohol frequently. Among pregnant women, alcohol use decreased from 22.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 20.8, 23.9) in 1988 to 9.5% (95% CI 7.9, 11.8) in 1992 and then increased to 15.3% (95% CI 13.1, 17.2) by 1995. Among pregnant women, frequent alcohol use decreased from 3.9% (95% CI 2.4, 5.2) in 1988 to 0.9% (95% CI 0.4, 1.6) in 1991 and then increased to 3.5% (95% CI 2.0, 5.1) by 1995. Pregnant women who were at high risk for alcohol use were college educated, unmarried, employed, or students, had annual household incomes of more than $50,000, or were smokers. Pregnant women who were at high risk for frequent alcohol use were more likely to be unmarried, or smokers.
Conclusion: The increasing prevalence of alcohol use among pregnant women calls for increased ascertainment of alcohol use among preconceptional and pregnant women. Brief interventions by clinicians, increased referral to alcohol treatment programs, and increased use of contraception by women of reproductive age who are problem drinkers should be considered as means of preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
(Obstet Gynecol. 1998;92:187-192)
(1998;92:187-192) Shahul H. Ebrahim et al, FAS Prevention Section, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy, NE, Mailstop F-15, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).