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Alcohol and Pregnancy

A study of women who attended the Coombe Women’s Hospitalii found that almost two-thirds (63%) of the 43,318 women surveyed said they drank alcohol during their pregnancy. Below is an article taken from Alcohol Action Ireland.

“It is in a child’s best interests for a prospective mother not to drink alcohol while pregnant due to the risk of developmental brain disorders to the child. Yet two out of three women in Ireland continue to drink alcohol during their pregnancy. The advice from the country’s Chief Medical Officeri is clear:

Given the harmful drinking patterns in Ireland and the propensity to binge drink, there is a substantial risk of neurological damage to the foetus resulting in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Therefore, it is in the child’s best interest for a pregnant woman not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

A study of women who attended the Coombe Women’s Hospitalii found that almost two-thirds (63%) of the 43,318 women surveyed said they drank alcohol during their pregnancy. The situation is put into stark relief when the number of women who stopped drinking during pregnancy 13.2% is contrasted with the almost 50% who gave up smoking. What the numbers suggest is that women are making choices based on what they perceive as greater risk to their own health and that of their child’s.

Why is it surprising that women in Ireland continue to drink during their pregnancies? In the most recent European study of 15 and 16-year-olds more Irish girls (44%) than boys (42%) reported ‘binge’ drinking during the past month.iii Over half (54%) said they were drunk at least once by the age of 16. Frequent and heavy drinking has become the norm with Ireland near the top of the European poll when it comes to the amount we drink in a year, and the amount we drink in a session.iv Ireland has the third highest per adult consumption rate out of 26 EU countries.

While women may receive information telling them that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy that information is outweighed by the extent of alcohol marketing which adds to the cultural acceptability and normalising of problem levels of alcohol use. Alcohol is marketed and sold in supermarkets, petrol stations and convenience stores as if it were just another grocery so that it has become an everyday item in the family shopping basket. Anecdotal evidence suggests that women receive either little information or contradictory information on alcohol during pregnancy from a number of sources including health care providers…”

To read this article in full please visit the Alcohol Action Ireland website.

Comments on: "Alcohol and Pregnancy" (2)

  1. This study does not suprise me. I am American, but have had all my 3 children here in Ireland.

    I was amazed during my first pg. when my gyn told me to limit alcohol to less than ‘5 units per week’. I didn’t really even drink that much when I wasn’t pg.! He was French, but I chose not to drink at all for the first 16 weeks and then would have the very occasional glass of wine or beer ( once a month) in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. I also had a midwife tell me to ‘enjoy a glass of wine and a warm bath’ to help with anxiety when I went over my due date. It is far from suprising then that so many women make the decision to continue drinking alcohol during their pg.
    I am always shocked at the stark contrast when I travel back to the US
    and hear people’s reaction when I tell them I will have a small glass of beer! They freak. NO ONE DRINKS while pg there. period!
    Personally, it is hard for me to agree with the total abstinence theory since all my babes came out perfect and have had no issues with the 5 or 6 drinks I took while pg. I can see why someone who may not be able to say no to that 2nd or 3rd glass in a night is probably better off not drinking at all. But doctors should stop saying it is ok if they are so serious about these health complications. Stop sending mixed signals and maybe compliance uptake in this country will be higher.
    Julee – mom of 3 in Cork

  2. i’ve 5 weeks left in my 4th pregnancy.i chose not to drink on any of them,some people think i’m mad as they don’t see the harm in a few small drinks,but the way i see it it’s only a short time in the whole of your life not to drink+ it only benefits the baby,also,there are plenty of non alcoholic options nowadays,it doesn’t have to be just soda water or ginger ale 😉

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