Men's drinking 'raises risk of child deformity'

Cai Wenjun
Research by experts in Shanghai indicates that a man's drinking before his partner gets pregnant can result in an increased risk of deformities in the child.
Cai Wenjun

Men who drink alcohol before their partner gets pregnant can raise the risk of deformities in the child, especially a cleft lip and palate, according to an article released by experts from the Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital of Fudan University on Tuesday.

The article titled “Association of preconception paternal alcohol consumption with increased fetal birth defect risk” was published by world leading journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Research used epidemiological evidence for the first time to testify that a man's alcohol intake enhances the risk of fetal detects. This can be related to sperm development and regulation of epigenetic modification, experts said.

They studied 529,090 couples in a 2010-2012 database of pre-pregnancy care. About 40.4 percent of men drank drink alcohol before a woman’s pregnancy. After excluding the influence of a female’s age, their smoking and drinking habits and history of taking folic acid, the risk of children’s defects with fathers who drank alcohol increased by 35 percent. The risk of a cleft lip and palate was much higher.

Women are always told to avoid drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy, but there had been no epidemiological research on whether it was safe for a man to drink when a couple was preparing for pregnancy.

Only 3.3 percent of the females in the database drank alcohol. 

Since drinking alcohol is prevalent among men before their wives’ pregnancies, reducing or avoiding drinking can help reduce the risk of deformity in the children, doctors said.

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