Ireland has the world's highest rate of drinking during pregnancy

A new study was conducted by linking rates of drinking during pregnancy

Ireland has the world's highest rate of drinking during pregnancy

File photo. Image: Anthony Devlin PA Archive/PA Images

60% of Irish mothers drink alcohol while pregnant, according to a new global study.

The study, published in The Lancet places Ireland first in the top five countries in the world who drink during pregnancy, along with Russia (37%), the United Kingdom (41%), Denmark (46%), and Belarus (47%) – all European countries.

This study has estimated that globally, about 10% of women in the general population consume alcohol during pregnancy and one in 67 women delivered a child with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Researchers analysed records from the Coombe Women's Hospital between 1990 and 2011.

Reaction

Sam Coulter-Smith, former master of Rotunda Hospital said on The Pat Kenny Show the problem is the lack of evidence surrounding the levels of alcohol which can be deemed safe to consume while pregnant.

"There are potentially so many effects of alcohol on the foetus during pregnancy", he said. "I think you probably have to accept that it's dose dependent and exposure dependent. 

"The more you drink and the more often you drink, the more likely you are to have a baby that suffers more of the problems associated with this."

He added that the safest way to avoid FAS remained total abstinence. and suggested the figure may be an underestimate due to people's general lack of honesty surrounding their drinking habits.

However, Sunday Times columnist Brenda Power said this is the one instance where "scare-mongering" is justified, but added that there must be a level where it could be considered safe to drink.