Drinking during pregnancy: American Indians and African Americans

us abortion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that about 15 percent of women consume alcohol during their pregnancies, and 2.1 percent consume alcohol frequently. The CDC also found that both alcohol use and frequent use of alcohol during pregnancy - after a decrease in the early 1990s - has lately increased. Alcohol use was 22.5% in 1988, dropped to 9.5 percent in 1992, then climbed up to 15.3 percent in 1995; frequent use was 3.9 percent in 1988, dropped to 0.9 percent in 1991, then climbed up to 3.5 percent in 1995.

Kaskutas said that some estimates have placed the cost of treating just some of the FAS disorders that occur at more than $321 million per year. An alternative method of estimation is to look at the cost of taking care of mentally retarded people in one year (approximately $11.7 billion), multiplying that by 11 percent (believed to be due to FAS), for an amount that exceeds one and one quarter billion dollars per year. Some ethnic groups seem to be more at-risk than others, and Kaskutas' study looked at the two groups with the highest rates of FAS: American Indians (2.97 per 1,000 births) and Blacks (0.6). Other rates are as follows: whites (0.09 per 1,000 births)), Hispanics (0.08), and Asians (0.03).

"Health campaigns that are directed at pregnant women have had a long reach," observed Kaskutas, "and most women are abstaining just like the messages have said to do." She said that the same health messages are also reaching those women considered most at-risk. "Most of these women have seen the warning label on alcohol containers, most have seen an advertisement about drinking while pregnant, more than half have seen a sign at a liquor store or restaurant, and the vast majority said they have had a conversation on the topic. Furthermore, all but 10 percent said that they understood and believed the messages." Then why is there still a problem?

"Those women who continued to drink while preg

Contact: Lee Ann Kaskutas, Dr.P.H.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

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