Despite [warnings] that alcohol can affect unborn children, pregnant women haven't changed their drinking habits much over the past two decades, the CDC said.
The average annual percentage of pregnant women who drank remained relatively stable at about 12% for any alcohol use and 2% for binge drinking ...
... The U.S. Surgeon General has consistently advised women against drinking alcohol during pregnancy. National prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome is about 0.5 to 2.0 cases per 1,000 births, but the other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders occur about three times as often ...
... Women with the highest rates of drinking during pregnancy were older, college graduates, employed, and unmarried.
Between 2001 and 2005, 17.7% of pregnant women ages 35 to 44 reported having at least one drink in the past 30 days, compared with 8.6% of women ages 18 to 24.
... While it's not well understood why drinking habits differ across certain aspects of social status, the researchers had a few possible explanations. It could be that older women may be more alcohol dependent and have more difficulty abstaining from alcohol while pregnant, they speculated.
Also, they said, more-educated women and employed women might have more discretionary money to spend on alcohol.
... healthcare providers should routinely ask women of childbearing age about their alcohol use and inform them of the risks of drinking during pregnancy.
Alcohol use levels before pregnancy are a strong predictor of alcohol use during pregnancy ... Many women who use alcohol continue to do so during the early weeks of gestation because they don't realize they're pregnant, as about half of all births are unplanned.