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Drinking Before Pregnancy, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Drinking Before Pregnancy, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy has the potential to lead to negative health outcomes. Current research suggests that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe, and this includes women who may not know they are pregnant. Approximately half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended and most women do not know they are pregnant until 4 to 6 weeks gestation. Because of this, many pregnant women may consume alcohol prior to knowing they are pregnant, which could cause harm to the fetus.

Alcohol exposure during pregnancy can be harmful to the brain of a developing baby and could result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are the most common preventable cause of intellectual disability in the United States and are completely preventable by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can last a lifetime and can manifest as:

  • Physical abnormalities such as birth defects, including facial abnormalities, problems with organ form and function and growth deficits
  • Impairments to cognitive and intellectual function, including learning disabilities and mental health issues
  • Behavioral problems such as substance abuse and criminal involvement if not identified early

Alcohol in a mother’s bloodstream passes to the fetus through the umbilical cord. Prenatal alcohol exposure can cause a range of adverse reproductive outcomes such as risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birthweight and premature birth. Each pregnancy is different so there is no time or amount of alcohol consumption that does not increase these risks.

The estimated lifetime cost to raise a child with fetal alcohol syndrome is $2 million and the annual cost for all individuals with fetal alcohol syndrome disorders in the United States is more than $4 billion. A 2010 estimate of the overall cost of excessive drinking in the United States attributed $5.5 billion to consuming alcohol while pregnant. Around 95 percent of those costs were related to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Source:
  • CDC, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System or state equivalent, 2017



Breastfed, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Breastfed, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of a baby’s life by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. Breastfeeding provides infants with nutrition and supports healthy brain and immune system development. Additional benefits to baby include:

Breastfeeding benefits for mothers include decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

Several social and cultural factors may lead a woman to stop breastfeeding early, or to never initiate breastfeeding. Factors associated with lower breastfeeding rates include: 

  • Employers not offering paid maternity leave to mothers.
  • Employers not giving sufficient breaks at work to pump breast milk or breastfeed. 
  • Shaming mothers for breastfeeding in public.
  • Mothers previously being unsuccessful in breastfeeding other children.
  • Mothers who struggle with poor positioning and latching.
  • Inadequate social support, such as a mother whose family does not approve of breastfeeding.
Source:
  • CDC, National Immunization Survey-Child (Birth Cohort), 2015



Sleep Position, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Sleep Position, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Every year in the United States 3,500 infant deaths are reported as a result of sleep-related problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting babies to sleep on their backs is the sleep position recommended to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant deaths. Putting a baby to sleep in a face-down or side sleep position is the most significant contributing factor in sudden unexpected infant deaths.

Source:
  • CDC, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System or state equivalent, 2017



Tobacco Use During Pregnancy, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Smoking During Pregnancy, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products while pregnant is harmful for the health of both mother and child. Tobacco use during pregnancy is linked to poor health outcomes, including: 

Smoking tobacco during pregnancy is costly. The total cost of neonatal health care due to smoking during pregnancy is an estimated $366 million annually.

Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigs or vape pens, have emerged as an alternative to cigarette smoking. Most e-cigarettes, however, still contain nicotine, which is addictive and toxic to developing fetuses. E-cigarettes are considered unsafe for youth, young adults and pregnant women.

Source:
  • CDC WONDER, Natality Public Use Files, 2017

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