Binge drinking is a dangerous activity which often goes unrecognized, especially among women and girls, with nearly 14 million American females engaging in this behavior about 3 times a month and consuming about 6 drinks per binge.

The finding came from a Vital Signs report which was released today from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

This type of behavior can severely affect anyone’s health. However, the report emphasizes the ways in which women’s health is put in danger from binge drinking. For example, it puts them at increased risk of:

Pregnant women who participate in binge drinking put their babies in danger by exposing them to high levels of alcohol. It can lead to sudden infant death syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Prior research demonstrated that a child’s IQ suffers from even the smallest levels of alcohol exposure while in the mother’s womb.

The experts also discovered that approximately 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls participate in binge drinking.

Binge drinking was reported most frequently among:

  • whites and Hispanics
  • women with household incomes of $75,000 or more
  • high school girls
  • females aged between 18 and 34

Fifty percent of all girls in high school who consume alcohol admit to binge drinking. Previous research indicated that teens who binge drink are at increased risk for developing mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, in adulthood.

Drinking 4 or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion is considered binge drinking for women and girls. Approximately 23,000 females die each year in the U.S. due to drinking too much, including binge drinking.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said:

“Binge drinking causes many health problems, and there are proven ways to prevent excessive drinking. Effective community measures can support women and girls in making wise choices about whether to drink or how much to drink if they do.”

The drinking behavior of about 278,000 American females aged 18 and older was analyzed by the CDC researchers for 30 days by using data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. They also examined an estimated 7,500 high school girls from the U.S. using the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The authors of the report called attention to the Guide to Community Preventive Service (Community Guide), which puts forwards successful plans to stop binge drinking.

Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., of the Alcohol Program at CDC, concluded:

“It is alarming to see that binge drinking is so common among women and girls, and that women and girls are drinking so much when they do. The good news is that the same scientifically proven strategies for communities and clinical settings that we know can prevent binge drinking in the overall population can also work to prevent binge drinking among women and girls.”

Written by Sarah Glynn