One in three Irish mums-to-be binge drink in first 15 weeks of pregnancy
These are among the stark findings of an international study examining Alcohol Consumption in Early Pregnancy, led by researchers at University College Cork.
The study found almost double the number of pregnant women in Ireland and the UK (65%-80%) consumed some alcohol in pregnancy compared to the figures in Australia (38%). In New Zealand, the figure was 53%.
Ireland had the highest levels of alcohol consumption in pregnancy of all six centres in the study, which included 5,628 healthy females who gave birth between Nov 2004 and Jan 2011 in Auckland, Adelaide, Cork, London, Leeds, and Manchester.
The senior author of the study, Louise Kenny, the professor of obstetrics at UCC, said the finding in relation to Irish women was "surprising and disappointing" given repeated public health warnings about drinking while pregnant.