Reported by the following BRFSS coordinators: L Eldridge, Alabama; P Owen, Alaska; J Contreras, PhD, Arizona; J Senner, Arkansas; L Lund, PhD, California; M Leff, Colorado; M Adams, Connecticut; F Breukelman, Delaware; C Mitchell, District of Columbia; D McTague, Florida; E Pledger, Georgia; VF Ah Cook, Hawaii; J Mitten, Idaho; B Steiner, Illinois; R Guest, Indiana; S Schoon, Iowa; K Bramblett, Kentucky; S Kirkconnell, Louisiana; R Schwartz, Maine; A Weinstein, Maryland; R Lederman, Massachusetts; H McGee, Michigan; N Salem, PhD, Minnesota; E Jones, Mississippi; J Jackson-Thompson, PhD, Missouri; P Smith, Montana; S Huffman, Nebraska; K Zaso, New Hampshire; G Boeselager, New Jersey; L Pendley, New Mexico; CBaker, New York; CR Washington, MPH, North Carolina; M Maetzold, North Dakota; E Capwell, Ohio; N Hann, MPH, Oklahoma; J Grant-Worley, Oregon; CBecker, Pennsylvania; J Buechner, Rhode Island; M Lane, South Carolina; B Miller, South Dakota; D Ridings, Tennessee; R Diamond, Texas; R Giles,Utah; P Brozicevic, Vermont; R Schaeffer, Virginia; T Jennings, Washington;
F King, West Virginia; E Cautley, Wisconsin. Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance Br, Office of Surveillance and Analysis, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; Developmental Disabilities Br, Div of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC.
Editorial Note: The findings in this report indicate a higher prevalence of frequent drinking among women of childbearing age in the northern regions of the United States than in other regions of the country. These findings are consistent with previous studies that found regional differences in drinking patterns (5). Results of this study indicate the need for surveillance of alcohol consumption patterns during pregnancy and for scrutiny of alcohol-related congenital anomalies in states with high prevalences of frequent drinking.
Women of childbearing age who are frequent drinkers are at risk for delivering an alcohol-affected infant if they become pregnant, especially if they continue to drink during pregnancy. Moderate consumption of one or more drinks per day and binge drinking have been associated with adverse birth outcomes, such as physical anomalies and lower intelligence quotients (6,7). Because no known safe level of alcohol use has been determined for pregnant women, those who are pregnant or who may become pregnant shouldabstain from alcohol.
The findings in this report are subject to at least two limitations. First, the estimates of frequent drinking are based on self-reported data,which usually underestimate actual alcohol use. Second, because the BRFSS does not include households without a telephone, the findings may not reflect patterns among population subgroups (e.g., low income and less educated women).
The findings in this report can assist states in targeting women of childbearing age and educating them about the importance of abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy and in planning health-promotion programs that help reduce alcohol use among women of childbearing age. Further analysis of these data is being conducted to determine patterns of alcohol use by demographic characteristics (e.g., income, education, and race).
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7. Streissguth AP, Barr HM, Sampson PD. Moderate prenatal alcohol exposure:effects on child IQ and learning problems at age 7 1/2 years.