STATUS > HEALTH BEHAVIORS
In 2003, 24 percent of the U.S. adult population (aged
18 years and older) reported binge alcohol use, which is defined
as having five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once
in the month prior to the survey. The rate of binge alcohol use
among males was more than twice that of females (30.9 percent compared
to 14.8 percent). Additionally, 3.4 percent of adult women and 10.4
percent of adult men reported heavy alcohol use in the past month.
For many women, alcohol misuse begins in adolescence, though its
prevalence rises significantly and peaks in the 18-25 age group.
Among these young adult women, 31.8 percent reported binge drinking
and 9.0 percent reported heavy drinking in the past month. Among
their younger counterparts aged 12-17, 10.1 percent reported binge
drinking and 2.3 percent reported heavy alcohol use in the past
month. The rates for the 26 and older group are closer to the adolescent
group, with 12.6 percent reporting binge drinking and 2.6 percent
reporting heavy drinking. The significant gender disparity in alcohol
use noted above does not exist for adolescent males and females
aged 12-17 years.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy contributes to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
(FAS), infant low birth weight, and developmental delays in children.
Findings from the 2002 and 2003 National Surveys on Drug Use and
Health reveal that 4.1 percent of pregnant women aged 15-44 reported
binge drinking in the past month. This compares to a rate of binge
drinking during the past month of 23.2 percent among non-pregnant
women. Among non-pregnant women in this age group, American Indian/Alaska
Native women were most likely to binge drink (35.1 percent) compared
to other racial and ethnic groups, non-Hispanic White women (26.1
percent) followed. Asian, non-pregnant women were the least likely
to report binge drinking (9.1 percent).