Most policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy do not improve birth outcomes. Instead, policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy result in worse birth outcomes and less prenatal care utilization. Alcohol policies that are generally applicable to the entire population that seek to reduce alcohol consumption overall appear to show more promise to improve birth outcomes than policies that single out drinking during pregnancy.
A majority of state-level policies targeting women’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy—even policies designed to support pregnant women—lead to more adverse birth outcomes and less prenatal care utilization. This study used data from more than 148 million births between 1972 – 2013 and alcohol and pregnancy policy data from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)’s Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) and original legal research.