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Nearly half of pregnant women in Ireland binge drink

That’s the highest rate among four studied countries.

Image: Shutterstock/SpeedKingz

IRELAND HAS THE highest rates of drinking before and during pregnancy in a new study of almost 18,000 women.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal Open shows that Ireland has higher rates of drinking before (90%) and during (82%) pregnancy among ourselves, Australia, the UK and New Zealand.

Added to that, Ireland has the highest rate of binge drinking before (59%) and during (45%) during pregnancy, based on analysis of three studies.

But the exact prevalence could be far lower than that as estimates of drinking during pregnancy from two other studies were substantially lower (20-46%), with only 3% of women reporting binge drinking in one, the researchers are cautioning.

Researchers across the four countries based their findings on an analysis of data from three studies: The Growing up in Ireland (GUI) study; the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study; and the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).

Between 15% and 70% of the women said that they had drunk 1-2 units a week during the first three months (trimester) of their pregnancy. But the number of reported units dropped substantially in all countries between the first and second trimester, as did binge drinking.

The researchers point out that most clinical and government guidelines advise women to stop drinking during pregnancy.

But they write: “Alcohol use during pregnancy is highly prevalent, and evidence from this cross-cohort and cross-country comparison shows that gestational alcohol exposure may occur in over 75% of pregnancies in the UK and Ireland.”

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