ATLANTA, July 20 (UPI) -- An estimated 51.5 percent of non-pregnant U.S. women use alcohol, while 7.6 percent of pregnant women use alcohol, U.S. health officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities.
Alcohol-exposed pregnancies can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that result in neurodevelopmental deficits and lifelong disability, the CDC said.
The Surgeon General issued an advisory in 2005 urging women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant to abstain from alcohol use.
The CDC analyzed data from the 2006 to 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which asked about any alcohol use and binge drinking in the past 30 days among women ages 18-44 years.
"The prevalence of binge drinking was 15 percent among non-pregnant women and 1.4 percent among pregnant women. Among pregnant women, the highest prevalence estimates of reported alcohol use were among those who were ages 35-44 years, white, college graduates, or employed," the report said. "Among binge drinkers, the average frequency and intensity of binge episodes were similar, approximately three times per month and six drinks on an occasion, among those who were pregnant and those who were not."