The drinking rate among pregnant women has declined overall, but not significantly for mothers-to-be who are young, less educated or who smoke, researchers say.

Interviews with 1,712 pregnant women in 21 states showed that overall, alcohol consumption fell from 32 percent to 20 percent between 1985 and 1988, according to a report in today's Journal of the American Medical Association."Of all subgroups, only three did not show a statistically significant decline in alcohol use during pregnancy: those aged 18 to 24 years, those with a high school education or less, and those who smoked," the report said.

Among pregnant women ages 18 to 24, the drinking rate was 23 percent in 1985, compared with 22 percent in 1988. The rate also declined from 23 percent to 22 percent among women with less than a high school education, while it fell from 42 percent to 37 percent among smokers.

The researchers said the pregnant women most likely to drink were smokers, those who were unmarried and those ages 35 to 45; however significant declines were posted in the latter two groups.

The study was conducted by researchers led by Dr. Mary Serdula from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Among pregnant women, the highest number of drinks per month was reported by the unmarried.