Fewer Women Are Drinking While Pregnant Thanks to Warning Signs

According to a new study, drinking during pregnancy is down—and it appears to be linked to new point-of-sale warning signs.

Pregnant Woman and Alcohol Anton Petrus/Shutterstock
The dangers of drinking during pregnancy are well-documented—yet plenty of women continue to imbibe while they're expecting. The good news? Those rates are down by about 11 percent. And a new study from the University of Oregon says it might be thanks to warning signs that detail the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. These signs appear at points of sale in certain states, and according to research that appears in the Journal of Health Economics, they're working.

The study's authors compaired data from the 24 states that posted this signage against the states that don't, using data from National Vital Statistics Natality Detail Files, which pulls information from birth certificates. They used data from 1989, the year when the impact of alcohol on fetuses were first publicized, to 2010. They also used findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which compiles information from women who freely self-reported alcohol use via phone surveys.

When all the data was crunched, researchers found that this signage can help bring down rates of drinking during pregnancy. Not all pregnant women have access to educational resources about the effects of drinking on pregnancy, and sharing these messages could certainly help women understand the risks.

"The signage is working," said study author Gulcan Cil in a release for the news. "Drinking alcohol while pregnant has been an issue that many policies have tried to address over the last few decades. An 11 percent change in the prevalence of drinking is not trivial. It is big enough to show up in the birth outcomes."

Maybe it's time for the other states to come on board, and help remind mamas-to-be of the impact that cocktail or bottle of wine could have on their baby.