Binge Drinking on the Rise in Young Women

Jun 27, 2004 02:41 AM EDT

A new report has found that binge drinking among young women is on the rise, bringing with it a number of health consequences, including fetal alcohol syndrome.

The report, called “Alcohol and Pregnancy Don't Mix”, was issued by the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It found that binge drinking in women aged 18 to 44 increased in the United States by 13% between 1999 and 2002.

40,000 babies born with disorders each year

Binge drinking—defined in the report is having more than five drinks on one occasion—puts women at an increased risk for unintended pregnancies and means they are more likely to drink while pregnant.

According to NOFAS, 40,000 babies are born every year with disorders—also known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders—related to prenatal drinking. That translates into approximately 1 per 100 live births. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can describe a number of effects, including physical, mental, behavioral and/or learning disabilities that all result from a mother drinking while pregnant.

Arizona had highest increase

The report, based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that reports of frequent drinking during pregnancy doubled from 0.8% in 1991 to 1.6% in 2001.

In 2001, 12.5% of US women reported drinking some quantity of alcohol while they were pregnant, about the same as the 12.4% rate in 1991. A 2002 survey found that 9% of pregnant women reported drinking alcohol during the past month while 3% reported binge drinking.

The five states and areas with the largest increases in binge drinking between 1999 and 2002 were Arizona (137%), Illinois (77%), the District of Columbia (62%), Connecticut (48%) and Maine (44%).

The largest decreases were seen in Kentucky (30% decline), Hawaii (23%), Alabama (20%), Indiana (19%) and New Hampshire (18%).