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A recent survey showed the prevalence of binge drinking among non-married pregnant women was 4.6 times the prevalence among married pregnant women.

[Cheryl H. Tan, MPH; Clark H. Denny, PhD, Nancy E. Cheal, PhD, et al, “Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women of Childbearing Age – United States, 2011 – 2013,” MMWR September 25,2015/64(37);1042-1046) ]


A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that 10 percent of pregnant American women consume alcohol during pregnancy, and that two percent of pregnant women drink frequently or engage in “binge drinking” (defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion).

The CDC analyzed data for more than 64,000 women of childbearing age who were surveyed by the 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a random telephone survey. CDC researchers warned that women who are pregnant or might become pregnant should avoid consuming alcohol.

The use of alcohol during pregnancy can cause serious health problems both for mothers and their unborn child, including fetal alcohol syndrom, birth defects, low-birth weight, and death.

However, one factor the CDC researchers failed to take into account in their analysis was the high instance of substance abuse among pregnant women with a history of abortion.

According to an Elliot Institute study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2004, among women who carry a pregnancy to term for the first time, women who had a history of abortion were five times more likely to use illicit drugs and twice as likely to consume alcohol during pregnancy compared to women who had not had a previous abortion.

“Drug and alcohol abuse can be a coping mechanism for women who have unresolved issues related to a past abortion, especially when those issues are exacerbated by the stress and reminders raised by a subsequent pregnancy,” said Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon.

“The CDC should recommend that doctors and social workers who treat pregnant women who drink ask questions about their reproductive history and refer women to appropriate post-abortion counseling programs.”

Source: PK Coleman et. al., “A History of Induced Abortion in Relationship to Substance Abuse During Subsequent Pregnancies Carried to Term,” American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1673-8, Dec. 2002.

[Elliot Institute News, vol.4, no.1, 12January05]