1 in 13 Pregnant Women Drink Alcohol

A study found that older, well-educated women are more likely to drink while pregnant

Drinking while pregnant is one of the most harmful things a woman can do to her unborn child, and can lead to birth defects and developmental disabilities. But lately, the debate has gone back and forth: it’s OK to drink when pregnant, it’s not OK. So why do one in 13 pregnant women, particularly older and well-educated women, continue to drink?

A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that older, more educated women are most likely to drink while pregnant. Fourteen percent of pregnant women ages 35 to 44 reported having at least one drink in the past 30 days, compared with 4.5 percent of their younger counterparts ages 18 to 24. Higher education surprisingly doubled the percentage of women who had consumed at least one drink — 10 percent of college degree holders compared with 5 percent of pregnant women with a high school diploma or less.

The authors of the study are questioning why this subgroup of women is drinking when pregnant. "It could be that they have more money to buy alcohol or that drinking is more acceptable for that group," said Claire Marchetta, one of the authors of the study. "We do not know all the exact reasons," Marchetta told Reuters. "Clearly, further research is needed to delineate this issue."

Despite Danish studies published in June that suggested that moderate drinking while pregnant may not be as harmful as previously thought, researchers maintain their stance that and recommends abstaining from alcohol while pregnant. "Drinking during pregnancy is just not worth the risk," said Dr. Jacquelyn Bertrand, co-author of three of these studies.

The CDC agrees, stating there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. Clark Denny, a CDC epidemiologist, told Reuters that the CDC is currently developing programs to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.