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Data & Statistics

Prevalence of FASDs

  • We do not know exactly how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Several different approaches have been used to estimate how many persons are living with FASDs in the population.   FASDs include several diagnoses related to exposure of the baby to alcohol during pregnancy. More specifically, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most involved diagnosis, used when several physical and developmental abnormalities are present (see Facts about FASDs).  
  • Using medical and other records, CDC studies have identified 0.2 to 1.5 infants with FAS for every 1,000 live births in certain areas of the United States.1 The most recent CDC study analyzed medical and other records and found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children from 7 to 9 years of age. 2
  • Studies using in-person assessment of school-aged children in several U.S. communities report higher estimates of FAS:  6 to 9 out of 1,000 children. 3,4
  • Few estimates for the full range of FASDs are available. Based on community studies using physical examinations, experts estimate that the full range of FASDs in the United States and some Western European countries might number as high as 2 to 5 per 100 school children (or 2% to 5% of the population).3,4

Prevalence of Alcohol Use among Women

State-Specific Weighted Prevalence Estimates of Alcohol Use Among Women 18–44 Years of Age, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2012

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

1 in 13 pregnany women reports alcohol use

[Read article]

  • 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.

Prevalence* of binge† drinking among childbearing-aged women (18-44 years), by state -- United States, 2012

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.


1 CDC. Fetal alcohol syndrome-Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and New York, 1995-1997. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002;51(20):433-5. [Read article]

2 CDC. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Among Children Aged 7-9 Years – Arizona, Colorado, and New York, 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(3):54-57.  [Read article]

3 May PA, Baete A, Russo J, Elliott AJ, Blankenship J, Kalberg WO, Buckley D, Brooks M, Hasken J, Abdul-Rahman O, Adam MP, Robinson LK, Manning M, Hoyme HE. Prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2014;134:855-66.  [Read summary]

4 May PA, Gossage JP, Kalberg WO, Robinson LK, Buckley D, Manning M, Hoyme HE. Prevalence and epidemiologic characteristics of FASD from various research methods with an emphasis on recent in-school studies. Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2009;15:176-92. [Read summary]

Highlighted Articles

Key Findings: Prevalence and characteristics of women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy
Many women in the United States are at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy, including those who are trying to become pregnant, because they continue drinking alcohol even after they have stopped using contraception (birth control).

Key Findings: The effects of alcohol use during pregnancy and later developmental outcomes: An analysis of previous studies
The journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has published a meta-analysis of multiple studies examining how drinking patterns of women during pregnancy can affect the development of their children.

Key Findings: Understanding and improving health messages about alcohol and pregnancy
The American Journal of Health Education published a study looking at women’s knowledge and beliefs about alcohol use and its risks during pregnancy, the role others play in influencing women’s behaviors, and women’s sources of health information to understand this issue.

Key Findings: Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women of Childbearing Age – United States, 2006-2010
The report, Alcohol use and binge drinking among women of childbearing age – United States, 2006–2010, describes findings from the BRFSS examining any alcohol use and binge drinking among pregnant and nonpregnant women of childbearing age (18–44 years) in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010.

Key Findings: Low to Moderate Alcohol Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Specific Neurodevelopmental Effects in Five-Year-Old Children
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology published five papers from the Lifestyle During Pregnancy Study which examined three specific neurodevelopmental outcomes in five-year-old children whose mothers reported drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.

Alaska Public Health Nurses Address Alcohol
Alaska has one of the highest reported rates of binge drinking in the nation, so public health nurses were interested in approaches that might address this problem.
(Published: April 13, 2015)

Living with FASDs: Sasha’s Story
Read about Sasha's experiences with FASDs and learn about new materials on alcohol use during pregnancy.
(Published: September 8, 2014)

Alcohol: How much is too much?
(Published: April 21, 2014)

Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention
1 in 13 women reports drinking alcohol during pregnancy, which can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
(Published: September 9, 2013)

Alcohol and Pregnancy: Why Take the Risk?
How much do you know about alcohol use during pregnancy? Take our quiz to find out.
(Published: April 22, 2013)

FASD Awareness Day 2012
Read about Melissa’s experience with alcohol use during pregnancy.
(Published: August 31, 2012)

New Report
Alcohol use and binge drinking among women of childbearing age – United States, 2006-2010.
(Published: July 19, 2012)

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: One Woman’s Story
Read about one woman's experience with FASDs. Information about new tools and resources you can use is also provided.
(Published: April 23, 2012)