New Report Spotlights Substance Use Among Pregnant Women
A new report from SAMHSA shows that, despite many warnings, over
4 percent of pregnant women age 15 to 44 reported illicit drug use
during the past month, 4 percent engaged in binge drinking, and
18 percent smoked cigarettes. The report also shows a distinct age
discrepancy in this substance use: Pregnant women age 15 to 25 were
more likely to use illicit drugs than pregnant women age 26 to 44.
The report, based on combined 2002 and 2003 data from SAMHSA's
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that 4.3 percent
of pregnant women age 15 to 44 reported using an illicit drug during
the past month, compared with 10.4 percent of nonpregnant women
in that age group (see chart below). NSDUH
defines illicit drug use as the use of marijuana/hashish, cocaine
(including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription-type
drugs used nonmedically.
Among pregnant women in the 15-to-44 age group, 9.8 percent reported
drinking alcohol during the past month, 4.1 percent reported binge
alcohol use, and less than 1 percent reported heavy alcohol use.
NSDUH defines binge alcohol use as drinking five or more drinks
on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. Heavy
alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same
occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.
In the 15-to-44 age group, the rates of past-month illicit drug,
alcohol, and cigarette use were lower among pregnant women than
among nonpregnant women who were recent mothers and nonpregnant
women who were not recent mothers. Among nonpregnant women, substance
use rates were lower for recent mothers than for women who were
not recent mothers. This suggests that women in this age group increased
their substance use during the year after giving birth, although
not to the level of nonpregnant women who were not recent mothers.
a copy of this report, Substance Use During Pregnancy:
2002 and 2003 Update, contact SAMHSA's National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at P.O.
Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20847-2345. Telephone: 1 (800)
729-6686 (English and Spanish) or 1 (800) 487-4889 (TDD).
The report is also available on the SAMHSA Web site at
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Percentages of Women Age 15 to 44 Who Reported
Past-Month Substance Use, by Pregnancy and Recent Motherhood Status**:
2002 and 2003
Source: SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health,
Office of Applied Studies, 2002 and 2003.
**"Pregnant women" were
those women age 15 to 44 who were currently pregnant at the time
of the survey. "Nonpregnant, recent mothers" were defined
as women age 15 to 44 who were not currently pregnant and who gave
birth during the prior year. "Nonpregnant, not recent mothers"
were defined as women age 15 to 44 who were not currently pregnant
and who did not have a biological child under age 1 in the household.
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