A new study has shown by 20 percent of woman drank while pregnant and woman with the highest levels of education are most likely to consume alcohol during pregnancy.

The Growing Up in Ireland study which was published on Monday by the Minister of State, for Children Barry Andrews, found that woman who low levels of education are more likely to smoke during pregnancy.

“Drinking alcohol at some stage in pregnancy was highest for mothers with a degree-level education (26 per cent). Mothers with the highest education were more likely to drink at any stage of pregnancy, in all three trimesters . . . than their peers with the lowest education.”

The major study surveyed the lives of over 11,000 nine-month-old babies.

Some 20percent of mothers admitted to drinking at some stage of pregnancy while 18 percents smoked. Just three percent of expectant mothers with a degree smoked during pregnancy in comparison to 30 percent of mothers with only secondary education.

The Government-funded research found that just over half of all infants were breastfed at some point. It also revealed that Irish-born mothers were far less likely to breast feed than non-Irish born mothers.