A high rate of alcohol use in Irish women during pregnancy has been revealed in a study led by the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research in Cork.
The study found 80 per cent of women in Ireland drank at some point in their pregnancy compared to 65 per cent in the UK, 35 per cent in Australia and 53 per cent in New Zealand.
80 per cent of the 1,774 women recruited in Ireland had consumed some alcohol in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy with more than 20 per cent reporting moderate to heavy drinking at 15 weeks.
Professor Louise Kenny who led the report said she was shocked at the high rate of alcohol use in the group as it was in stark contrast to the standard advice worldwide to avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
She said: “I was quite shocked that 20 per cent of women in Ireland reported moderate to heavy drinking at 15 weeks of pregnancy when the standard advice is that it is best to avoid alcohol altogether as it is not known what is a safe level.
“The potential for neurocognitive dysfunction remains one of the single-most important reasons for pregnant women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy and this paper highlights an important gap between the advice of healthcare providers and what is actually happening.”