Alcohol and Pregnancy in the United States

Updated: 2023

Image of United States map. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) affect 1% to 5% of U.S. children in the first grade. Source: JAMA, 2018


  • According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS)—a survey of more than 400,000 people by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—during 2018–2020, nearly 14% of pregnant people ages 18 to 49 reported current drinking.1
  • Also according to BRFSS, during 2018–2020, about 5% of pregnant people ages 18 to 49 reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.1
  • According to 2021 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)—a survey of about 70,000 people by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—9.8% of pregnant women ages 15 to 44 in the United States used alcohol in the past month.2
  • The 2021 NSDUH also found that 4.3% of pregnant women ages 15 to 44 in the United States reported binge drinking in the past month.2
  • A study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of more than 6,000 children in first grade across four U.S. communities estimated that as many as 1% to 5% of first-grade children have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.3
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), caution should be used when comparing estimates from the 2020 and 2021 NSDUH to those from prior years due to methodological changes. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, data for NSDUH were collected during in-home visits, using computer-assisted techniques. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a delay in data collection during 2020 and the introduction of web-based data collection, with very limited in-person data collection. Because these changes in data collection coincided with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and any related behavioral or mental health changes, we cannot fully separate the effects of methodological changes from true changes in the outcomes. Please see the Methodological Summary and Definitions [PDF – 4 MB] for more information.


  1. Gosdin LK, Deputy NP, Kim SY, Dang EP, Denny CH. Alcohol consumption and binge drinking during pregnancy among adults aged 18–49 years — United States, 2018–2020. MMWR. 2022;71(1):10-3. PubMed PMID: 34990444
  2. SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Table 8.25B—Types of illicit drug, tobacco product, and alcohol use in past month: among females aged 15 to 44; by pregnancy status, percentages, 2021. [cited 2023 Jan 11]. Available from: 
  3. May PA, Chambers CD, Kalberg WO, Zellner J, Feldman H, Buckley D, Kopald D, Hasken JM, Xu R, Honerkamp-Smith G, Taras H, Manning MA, Robinson LK, Adam MP, Abdul-Rahman O, Vaux K, Jewett T, Elliott AJ, Kable JA, Akshoomoff N, Falk D, Arroyo JA, Hereld D, Riley EP, Charness ME, Coles CD, Warren KR, Jones KL, Hoyme HE. Prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in 4 U.S. communities. JAMA. 2018;319(5):474-82. PubMed PMID: 29411031
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