Binge drinking among women and girls in the United States is a much more serious health issue than previously recognized. Florida is no exception.
In a recent media brief, the CDC claimed that nationally 1 in 8 adult women and 1 in 5 high school girls consume 4 or more alcoholic drinks within a 2 to 3 hour period about 3 times a month.
In a 2012 survey of Florida youth age 11 to 18, almost 11 percent of teenage girls admitted to be binge drinkers.
Binge drinkers are not necessarily alcoholics.
Nonetheless, this kind of excess drinking increases the risk for breast cancer, heart disease, STDs and unintended pregnancy.
Women who may not realize they are pregnant and binge drink expose the unborn fetus to high levels of alcohol during its early development which may lead to miscarriage, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.
CDC leaders hope that by educating the public about the dangers of binge drinking for women and girls, communities will adopt some or all of the strategies that have been shown to be effective in reducing excess consumption for everyone.
These include raising alcohol taxes, decreasing the number and concentration of alcohol retailers in a particular area, cutting back on the days or hours of alcohol sales, maintaining existing government controls over alcohol sales (avoiding privatization), holding alcohol retailers liable for injuries or damage following illegal service to intoxicated or underage customers, stepping up enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors and electronic screening and counseling for excessive alcohol use.
The CDC as well as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) both recommend that primary care physicians ask every patient about binge drinking and advise those who do to cut back.
Parents can do their part to reduce binge drinking in teen girls by being good role models. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “parents' drinking behavior and favorable attitudes about drinking have been positively associated with adolescents' initiating and continuing drinking”. In addition, parents should discuss the dangers openly as well as being aware of their teen’s and their teen’s friends' drinking behaviors.