Despite vigorous headshaking from healthcare professionals who don't live in Denmark, 1 in 13 women still drink even when they're pregnant. A CDC report released Thursday found that 51.5 percent of non-pregnant women ages 18-44 said they had used alcohol in the past 30 days, with 7.6 percent of pregnant women in that same age range reporting similar alcohol use in the previous month. Of those pregnant women, 1.4 percent described themselves as binge drinkers, which, for all you people keeping a running tally, is defined as having four or more drinks at a time.
The CDC said that it analyzed data collected for 2006-2010 from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a random phone survey that collects information on Americans' various ailments, probably just as those Americans are sitting down to dinner after a nauseatingly long day at work. A total of 345,067 women in the 18-44 age-range participated in the survey, with 13,880 being pregnant and 331,196 not being pregnant. If you're concerned that a small percentage of women don't seem to fret all that much about how earnestly the March of Dimes has warned pregnant women that "there is no amount of alcohol that is proven to be safe," it might make you breathe a little easier to know that the 2006-2010 numbers show a (very) slight improvement from the 2001-2005 data, which indicated a binge drinking rate of 1.8 percent among pregnant women. However, among non-pregnant women, binge drinking jumped from 12.6 percent in the earlier study to 15 percent in the latest one. Also worth mentioning, pregnant women between the ages of 35 and 44 recorded the highest rate of alcohol use, at 14.3 percent.
A spokesperson for the CDC explained that the data is self-reported and does not account for the circumstances surrounding alcohol use. A Danish study last month suggested (albeit very cautiously) that drinking during early and mid-term pregnacy might not be quite as catastrophic as most public health warnings would have you believe, though the Danes didn't exactly give a big thumbs-up to pregnant mothers just itching to hit the sauce — researchers on that study cautioned people not to take their, er, research as evidence that drinking during pregnancy is safe.
1 in 13 pregnant women say they drink alcohol [AP via LA Times]