september 2007

Patterns and average volume of alcohol use among women of childbearing age

OBJECTIVES: Maternal alcohol use is a leading preventable cause of neurobehavioral and developmental abnormalities in children. This study examines the patterns and average volume of alcohol use among U.S. women of childbearing age in order to identify subgroups of high-risk women for selective intervention.

METHODS: A sample of 188,290 women aged 18-44 years participated in the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC)'s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey during the period of 2001-2003. Reported alcohol use patterns and average volume were examined for pregnant and nonpregnant women. Efforts were made to evaluate and characterize women who practiced various levels of binge drinking.

RESULTS: The results showed that approximately 2% of pregnant women and 13% of nonpregnant women in the United States engaged in binge drinking during the period of 2001-2003. Among the estimated average of 6.7 million women of childbearing age overall who engaged in binge drinking during the period, approximately 28.5% women also reported consuming an average of 5 drinks or more on typical drinking days, or about 21.4% women consumed at least 45 drinks on average in a month. Larger proportions of binge drinkers with high usual quantity of consumption were found among women of younger ages (18-24 years) or current smokers.

CONCLUSIONS: Future prevention efforts should include strategies that combine health messages and encourage women of childbearing age, with particular emphasis on women 18-24 years, to avoid alcohol and tobacco use, and take multivitamins and folic acid daily for better pregnancy outcomes. Other efforts must also include broad-based implementation of screening and brief intervention for alcohol misuse in primary and women's health care settings.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Tsai J.; Floyd R.L.; Green P.P.; Boyle C.A.
  • Issue

    Matern.Child Health J. / pages 437-445 / volume 11
  • Published Date

    september 2007