Only 1 in 6 pregnant women who admitted to drinking alcohol were advised to quit
- Health officials analyzed survey data from pregnant women in the US
- About 80% of women said they were asked if they were drinking.
- However, only 16% of those who admitted to the habit said they received advice.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 1 in 6 pregnant women who admitted to drinking were advised by their doctor to quit smoking.
Agency researchers surveyed 950 pregnant women about how often they drank alcohol and whether they had been told by their health care provider to stop drinking.
Of the 13.3% who admitted to drinking in the 30 days prior to their visit, only 16% said their doctor had told them to stop drinking.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy, even in small amounts, even one glass of wine a week, can cause serious health problems for your baby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling on doctors to ensure that pregnant women who drink alcohol are supported (Stock).
The CDC report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), is based on survey data from 2017 and 2019.
Physicians have been told to ask all pregnant women who come to appointments if they drink alcohol, based on the guidelines of major U.S. physicians.
A CDC survey found that about 80% of the women surveyed said they were asked if they drank alcohol.
In a report led by CDC clinical psychologist Dr. Jackie Luong, the authors wrote that this was a “missed opportunity to reduce alcohol use during pregnancy.”
“We don’t know a safe amount, type of alcohol, or timing of alcohol use during pregnancy or trying to conceive.”
This graph shows the percentage of pregnant women who said they were screened for alcohol consumption and the percentage who said they were advised to stop or reduce their drinking.
This graph shows the percentage of U.S. pregnant women who admitted to drinking between 2015-2017 and 2018-2020.
The study also found that pregnant women were less likely to be screened for alcohol use if they had not attended college.
About 53.5% of women in this group said they were asked, compared to 83.4% of women with college degrees.
Screening for alcohol use during pregnancy could be improved by offering cash incentives to doctors and including this in digital health records, the CDC says.
Simple interventions or behavioral counseling have been shown to increase the likelihood of abstinence or reduced alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Data are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) study, the premier health surveillance system in the country, conducted from 2017 to 2019. This is self-reporting and participants are not required to provide evidence.
Despite warnings about drinking during pregnancy, the rate of alcohol consumption is increasing.
Between 2015 and 2017, approximately 11.5% of pregnant women admitted to drinking during pregnancy.
However, from 2018 to 2020, this number rose to 13.5%, according to the study. About 7% admitted to binge drinking, or drinking her four or more drinks at one time.
Medical officials have repeatedly stated that there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during pregnancy and should not be consumed at any time.
This is because babies are constantly developing and both their brains and bodies are affected by alcohol consumption.
Children exposed to alcohol in utero may be born with a condition called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Features of the disease include abnormal facial features such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip, small head size, and learning disabilities.
Physicians are now asked to have a brief conversation with all pregnant patients about whether they drink alcohol and refer them for treatment when appropriate.
This is called the Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (ABSI) tool.
Is it safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy.
Also, there is no safe time to drink alcohol of any kind, be it wine, beer or spirits.
Alcohol poses a risk to the infant’s development because it passes through the placenta to the infant when it enters the mother’s blood.
It can affect the fetus at any time during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the face, body, and brain are developing.
Young people exposed to alcohol in utero are at risk of developing a condition known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (or FASD).
This can result in babies being born with the following abnormalities:
- Abnormal facial features such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip.
- small head size;
- below average height;
- lack of coordination;
- Learning disability.
The CDC adds that it’s never too late to stop drinking during pregnancy, adding that the move will help your baby’s health and well-being.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 women in the United States drink during pregnancy.