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Binge Drinking a Big Problem Among Women, Girls

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Prevalence Higher in Whites continued...

Thus, if anything, the prevalence of binge drinking detailed in the new report is an underestimation of the real rates of binge drinking among women and girls, as Frieden indicated.

In 2011, the overall prevalence of binge drinking among women 18 or older in the U.S. was 12.5%.

The prevalence of binge drinking was highest among non-Hispanic white women, but the frequency and intensity of binge drinking was similar across racial and ethnic groups.

Binge drinking also increased with household income. It was highest among women whose annual household income reached $75,000 a year or more.

Among high school girls, Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites were most likely to report binge drinking at about 22% for each group.

Higher Blood Alcohol

The higher the school grade, the more likely girls who reported current alcohol use were to binge drink, at 45% in grade 9 to almost 62% in grade 12.

Over half of high school girls who reported current alcohol use also reported binge drinking.

"Binge drinking is not a new problem among women and girls, but there are special concerns about binge drinking among them," Robert Brewer, MD, MPH, of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said during the same telebriefing.

Women and girls, for example, metabolize alcohol differently than men, and they reach higher blood-alcohol levels for the same amount of alcohol drunk.

They are also at risk for not just short-term harmful effects from binge drinking, but long-term risks including breast cancer.

Women with unintended pregnancies as a result of binge drinking tend not to recognize that they are pregnant, CDC authors observe.

Binge drinking during pregnancy is therefore potentially associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which clearly has long-term consequences for the infant as well.

For more information about binge drinking, visit the CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health web site.

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