Data & Statistics
In the United States
- We do not know exactly how many people have an FASD. CDC studies have shown that 0.2 to 1.5 cases of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) occur for every 1,000 live births in certain areas of the United States.1, 2, 3, 4 Other studies using different methods have estimated the rate of FAS at 0.5 to 2.0 cases per 1,000 live births.
- Scientists believe that there are at least three times as many cases of FASDs as FAS. [Read summary]
- Prevalence estimates of alcohol use among women of childbearing age vary from state to state. View your state's alcohol consumption rate in 2010.
Text description of this map is available on a separate page.
- The lifetime cost for one individual with FAS in 2002 was estimated to be $2 million. This is an average for people with FAS and does not include data on people with other FASDs. People with severe problems, such as profound intellectual disability, have much higher costs. It is estimated that the cost to the United States for FAS alone is over $4 billion annually. [Read summary]
Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking among Women of Childbearing Age - United States, 2006-2010
- 7.6% of pregnant women (or 1 in 13) and 51.5% of nonpregnant women (or 1 in 2) reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.*
- Among pregnant women, the highest estimates of reported alcohol use were among those who were:
- Aged 35-44 years (14.3%);
- White (8.3%);
- College graduates (10.0%);
- Employed (9.6%)
- 1.4% of pregnant women (or 1 in 71) and 15.0% of nonpregnant women (or 1 in 7) reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.†
- Among binge drinkers, the average frequency and intensity of binge episodes were similar, about three times per month and approximately six drinks on an occasion, among those who were pregnant and those who were not.
- Among nonpregnant binge drinkers, binge drinking prevalence, frequency, and intensity were highest among those aged 18-24 years.
Potential Limitations to BRFSS Data:
- BRFSS is a survey of households with landline telephones, so the results might not be representative of certain segments of the U.S. population. BRFSS will include data for respondents with cellular telephones beginning with the 2011 data set.
- Alcohol use is self-reported and might be underreported.
- Recent changes in BRFSS methodology might have affected findings using 2006-2010 alcohol consumption data:
- In 2006, BRFSS adopted the new gender-specific definition for binge drinking (four or more drinks on an occasion for women). This definition change sets a lower threshold for binge drinking among women and therefore has the effect of increasing the prevalence estimate.
- A possible reason this increase was not observed in the pregnant population for the 2006-2010 data may be because beginning in 2006, pregnancy status was asked before the alcohol consumption questions, while in the past, the order was reversed. Women who have already disclosed that they are pregnant may be less likely to report alcohol use in the past 30 days.
*Any alcohol use was defined as having at least one drink of any alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days
† Binge drinking was defined as having consumed four or more drinks on an occasion at least one time in the past 30 days.
Alcohol Use among Women of Childbearing Age - United States, 1991-2005
- 12.2% of pregnant women (about 1 in 8) reported any alcohol use in the past 30 days. This rate has remained stable over the 15 year period.
- Pregnant women most likely to report any alcohol use were:
- 35-44 years of age (17.7%)
- College graduates (14.4%)
- Employed (13.7%)
- Unmarried (13.4%)
- 1.9% of pregnant women (about 1 in 50) reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.*
- Pregnant women who binge drank were more likely to be employed and unmarried as compared to pregnant women who did not binge drink.
- The prevalence of binge drinking among pregnant women did not substantially change over the 15 year period.
- Alcohol use levels prior to pregnancy are a strong predictor of alcohol use during pregnancy.
- Many women who drink alcohol continue to drink during the early weeks of pregnancy because they do not realize that they are pregnant.
- Only about 40% of women realize that they are pregnant at 4 weeks of gestation, a critical period for organ development.
* In these findings, binge drinking was defined as having five or more drinks at one time. More recently, the definition of binge drinking for women has been changed to four or more drinks at one time.
Alcohol Consumption among Women Who Are Pregnant or Who Might Become Pregnant --- United States, 2002
- Approximately 10% of pregnant women (about 1 in 10) reported any alcohol use in the past 30 days.
- Approximately 2% of pregnant women (about 1 in 50) engaged in binge drinking or frequent use of alcohol in the past 30 days.*
- Among women who might become pregnant (they reported not using any type of birth control):
- 52.4% said that they wanted to become pregnant
- 54.9% reported alcohol use
- 12.4% reported binge drinking
- In the United States, almost 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, stressing the importance of educating all women of childbearing age about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy. [Read summary]
Text description of this map is available on a separate page.
Alcohol Use Data Sets
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS): This telephone survey tracks national and state-specific health risk behaviors of adults, aged 18 years and older, in the United States. The BRFSS is administered and supported by the Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.
National Health Interview Survey (NHIS): The NHIS is a multi-purpose nationwide household health survey of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population conducted annually by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC, to produce national estimates for a variety of health indicators.
National Survey on Drug Use and Health: This survey provides information on the prevalence, patterns, and consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use and abuse in the general U.S. population, 12 years and older. It is conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies (OAS).
Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI): This software, supported by CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, generates estimates of alcohol-related deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) due to alcohol consumption.
- CDC. Fetal alcohol syndrome-United States, 1979"“1992. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1993;42(17):339-41.
- CDC. Update: Trends in fetal alcohol syndrome-United States, 1979"“1993. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1995;44(13):249-51.
- CDC. Surveillance for fetal alcohol syndrome using multiple sources-Atlanta, Georgia, 1981"“1989. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1997;46(47):1118-20.
- CDC. Fetal alcohol syndrome-Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and New York, 1995"“1997. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002;51(20):433-5.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO