Information for Women
5 Things You Should Know about Drinking Alcohol during Pregnancy
- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASDs. People with FASDs can have learning disabilities, hyperactivity, difficulty with attention, speech and language delays, low IQ, and poor reasoning and judgment skills. They can also have problems with their organs, including the heart and kidneys.
- There is no known amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. All drinks with alcohol can affect a baby’s growth and development and cause FASDs. A 5-ounce glass of red or white wine has the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can of beer or a 1.5-ounce shot of straight liquor.
- There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she is pregnant. Women also should not drink alcohol if they are sexually active and do not use effective contraception (birth control). This is because a woman might get pregnant and expose her baby to alcohol before she knows she is pregnant. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Most women will not know they are pregnant for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
- Too many women continue to drink during pregnancy. About 1 in 13 pregnant women in the United States reports alcohol use in the past 30 days. And about 1 in 71 pregnant women in the United States reports binge drinking in the past 30 days (having four or more drinks at one time).
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are completely preventable. FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy. Why take the risk?
If You Want to Get Pregnant
Plan to have a healthy baby - don't drink alcohol.
View and print this fact sheet with tips for not drinking alcohol if you are planning to get pregnant.
For more information on how to get ready for a healthy pregnancy, visit Planning Pregnancy.
If You're Pregnant
Think about your baby's health - don't drink alcohol.
View and print this fact sheet with tips for not drinking alcohol during pregnancy and strategies to stop drinking.
For more healthy pregnancy tips, visit CDC's healthy pregnancy page.
If You Are Not Planning to Get Pregnant
Take care of yourself – avoid risky drinking.
View and print this fact sheet with tips for not drinking too much alcohol and what to do if you drink at risky levels.
Risky Drinking: More than 7 standard-sized drinks per week or more than 3 per occasion, and drinking when pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
* Note: Depending on factors such as the type of spirits and the recipe, one mixed drink can contain from one to three or more standard drinks.
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Produced by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
Click on the following links to learn more about risky drinking:
- Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health
- Surgeon General's Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy
- CDC Infographics on Excessive Alcohol Use
If you cannot stop drinking, get help! Contact your doctor, local Alcoholics Anonymous, or local alcohol treatment center.
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a treatment facility locator. This locator helps people find drug and alcohol treatment programs in their area.
Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)
Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Locate an A.A. program near you.
Learn about CDC's work in preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies, including research-based interventions.
- Page last reviewed: April 28, 2014
- Page last updated: April 28, 2014
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