Irish women are amongst the worst offenders when it comes to drinking alcohol when pregnant according to a recent survey by online medical journal BMJ Open.
It revealed that as many as 82% of Irish women continued to consume alcohol once they found out they were pregnant.
That figure is higher than their counterparts in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The study involved 17,000 women from the four countries mentioned.
Many Irish women admitted that they continued to drink throughout their pregnancy, although the volumes consumed were relatively low at one or two small glasses of wine a week.
However, that is still more than is recommended by medical experts.
Dr Linda O’Keeffe of Cambridge University led the study. She spoke to the Irish Independent about the findings: “The big message here is the mismatch between what the guidelines say and what women are doing. We must put the responsibility on government to ensure we are conveying the guidelines effectively.”
According to BMJ Open, 90% of Irish women said they drank alcohol before they were pregnant, and 82% continued once they knew they were expecting.
The findings could be cause for concern for the Irish government, but the extent of the issue is in doubt, with previous studies indicating the problem is far less prominent than suggested by BMJ Open.