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Notice to Readers: Surgeon General's Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy

In February 2005, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy to raise public awareness about this important health concern. Research demonstrates that prenatal alcohol exposure can result in a spectrum of birth defects that can affect a child's growth, appearance, cognitive development, and behavior (1,2). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are preventable if a woman abstains from drinking alcohol while pregnant.

In 2003, approximately 10% of pregnant women reported alcohol use, with 4% of them reporting binge drinking (3). In addition, nearly 55% of women who might become pregnant report drinking alcohol, and more than 12% report binge drinking (4). Because approximately 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, prevention efforts should target not only pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy but also women of childbearing age who are sexually active and not using an effective form of birth control. This new advisory reaches out to this broader group of women and urges them to abstain from alcohol.

The Surgeon General's Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy is available at Additional information about alcohol use and pregnancy is available from CDC at, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at


  1. Stratton K, Howe C, Battaglia F, eds. Fetal alcohol syndrome: diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 1996.
  2. CDC; National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect. Fetal alcohol syndrome: guidelines for referral and diagnosis. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2004.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: national findings. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2004. DHHS Publication No. SMA 04--3964.
  4. CDC. Alcohol use among women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant---United States, 2002. MMWR 2004;53:1178--81.

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