Fewer Moms-To-Be Abusing Booze

Alcohol abuse admissions among pregnant women have dropped over past decade

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D. Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Pregnant women have been getting the memo about not abusing alcohol. But higher drug abuse rates among moms-to-be suggest there is still a need for education and support.

A recent report looked at the rates of alcohol and drug abuse among women of childbearing age in the US.

The results of this report showed that, over the past decade, pregnant women have been seeking treatment less for alcohol abuse and more for drug abuse compared to years past.

The researchers recommend increasing community support for drug abuse in women of childbearing age.

"Seek treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, especially when pregnant."

A recent report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed new trends in alcohol and drug abuse among women of childbearing age in the US.

Pregnant women, ages 15 to 44, have been entering substance abuse treatment programs at a steady rate over the past decade.

In 2000, a total of 4.4 percent of women who entered treatment programs were pregnant, compared to 4.8 percent in 2010.

While researchers found no real changes in the percentages of pregnant women entering treatment programs, the reasons for entry did change.

Admission reports showed a steady decline in the rates of pregnant women seeking treatment for alcohol abuse alone over the past decade — a drop from 9.7 percent down to 7.0 percent.

For pregnant women seeking treatment for alcohol abuse, with or without drug abuse, the rate dropped from 46.6 percent in 2000 to 34.8 percent in 2010.

Rates of pregnant women seeking treatment for both alcohol and drug abuse fell from 36.9 percent in 2000 to 27.8 percent in 2010.

However, more pregnant women have been seeking treatment for drug abuse over the past decade, with rates increasing from 51.1 percent in 2000 to 63.8 percent in 2010.

Similar shifts from alcohol abuse treatment to drug abuse treatment also were found in women who were not pregnant.

Of the women in the same age group who were not pregnant, 18.4 percent entered treatment for alcohol abuse only in 2000. By 2010, that rate dropped to 16.0 percent.

An increase was seen in non-pregnant women entering treatment for drug abuse only — from 38.1 percent in 2000 to 49.1 percent in 2010.

For drug and alcohol abuse combined admissions, 41.5 percent of non-pregnant admissions in 2000 fell to 33.6 percent in 2010.

"The change in substances of abuse reported by admissions involving women of childbearing age, regardless of pregnancy status, may highlight the need to focus greater attention on addressing drug abuse among this population," wrote the report authors. 

“Any kind of substance use by pregnant women can result in miscarriage, premature birth or a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems in the children they carry,” Pamela S. Hyde, SAMHSA Administrator, said in a press release.

"Pregnant women must have access to prevention, support, and recovery services that meet their specialized needs. These include community programs for both pregnant and postpartum women that can help ensure their full recovery and better lives for them and their children," Hyde said. 

This study was published in July on the SAMHSA website. SAMHSA is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Review Date: 
July 30, 2013
Last Updated:
August 9, 2013