Exploring pregnancy-related changes in alcohol consumption between Black and White women

Daniel S. Morris, Leigh E. Tenkku, Joanne Salas, Pamela K. Xaverius, Mark B. Mengel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Although epidemiological data indicate that White women are more likely to drink and binge drink before pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is more common in the Black population than among Whites in the United States. Differences in drinking cessation between Black and White women who become pregnant may help explain the disparity in FAS rates. Methods: The study sample was comprised of 280,126 non-Hispanic Black and White women, ages 18 to 44, from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2001 to 2005 data sets. Predictors of reduction in alcohol consumption (in drinks per month) and binge drinking (>4 drinks on one occasion) by pregnant and non-pregnant women were identified with logistic regression. The effect of interactions of pregnancy status with age, education, and Black or White race on drinks per month and binge occasions were explored using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results: Pregnant White women averaged 79.5% fewer drinks per month than non-pregnant White women (F = 1250.1, p < 0.001), and 85.4% fewer binge drinking occasions (F = 376, p < 0.001). Pregnant Black women averaged 58.2% fewer drinks per month than non-pregnant Black women (F = 31.8, p < 0.001) and 64.0% fewer binge occasions (F = 13.8, p < 0.001). Compared to Black women, White women appear to make a 38% greater reduction in drinks per month, and a 33% greater reduction in binge occasions. Conclusions: Non-Hispanic White women appear more likely to reduce drinks per month and binge drinking occasions than non-Hispanic Black women during pregnancy. These findings may help explain disparities in FAS in the United States, though this cross-sectional sample does not permit claims of causation. To better describe the impact of differential drinking reduction on FAS rates, future studies of longitudinal data should be done.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-512
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol Use
  • Binge Drinking
  • Childbearing-age Women
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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