Eighty percent of all pregnant women in Australia drink during pregnancy, a study that was published today in the Medical Journal of Australia claims. The study did not just look into the statistics of women consuming alcohol while pregnant, but also took a closer look at how those statistics changed since the Australian government started officially advising them not to. The answer? Pregnant women are blatantly ignoring government advice, and knocking back the drinks.

We are not talking about large amounts of alcohol here, of course. The 80 percent refers to anyone who drinks the occasional glass of wine. In 2001, pregnant Australians were told that having six drinks a week would do their baby no harm but last year, the government changed their advice and started warning against any amount of alcohol while expecting.

“Not drinking is the safest option for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy,” the National Health and Medical Research Council claims. But Australians, who are well known for their love of drinking anyway, are ignoring the warnings.

The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, also from down under, says something a bit different about pregnancy and drinking. In another study that came out this week, this institute claims that children whose mothers enjoyed a casual drink now and then while they were gestating their babies are actually better behaved. Excuse me?

You read right – this study followed the behaviors of over 2,000 Australian children, and concluded that those with drinking mothers displayed “more positive behaviors”. The research team also adds that moderate drinkers are mentally healthier compared to those who either drink compulsively or abstain totally.

I don’t know enough about the study methods this, surely controversial, study used to be able to judge if their findings deserve to be taken seriously at all, but I do know that essentially encouraging pregnant mothers to drink does not sit right with me. What did the National Health and Medical Research Council say again?

Right, no alcohol at all: “Alcohol may harm your baby whilst you are pregnant. Heavy daily drinking or heavy episodes of drinking have the most risk  [but] the safest thing is to stop drinking altogether while you are pregnant and while you are breast feeding.”

How about you? Do you plan to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, or do you think a few glasses here and there are OK? Do you think the Australian government is right to recommend pregnant woman to stay away from alcohol altogether? Or are the new recommendations taking safety a step too far?