Hey Future daddies, you might need to reconsider your alcohol drinking habits if you are planning to make babies with your partners. Why?
Because it turns out drinking dads can harm babies just as much as drinking mums during pregnancy. It refers to children born with mental retardation, developmental problems and abnormal facial features.According to new research, a man’s sperm could be responsible for ‘foetal alcohol spectrum disorder’ (FASD), which affects every 100 infants.
People normally assume that it only affects children whose mothers downed large amounts during pregnancy.
If you wanted to prevent it, a woman would just not drink alcohol for nine months.
But scientists now say there’s a link between birth defects and a father’s alcohol consumption around the time of conception.
The study, published in the American Journal of Stem Cells, suggests both parents contribute to the health of their children.
Biochemist Professor Joanna Kitlinska, from Georgetown University, said: ‘We know the nutritional, hormonal and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response and gene expression in her offspring.Exposure to alcohol before birth is one of the most significant causes of childhood brain damage, learning disability, poor behaviour and even criminality.
‘But our study shows the same thing to be true with fathers – his lifestyle, and how old he is, can be reflected in molecules that control gene function. In this way, a father can affect not only his immediate offspring, but future generations as well.’
Prof Kitlinska said: ‘Up to 75 percent of children with FASD have biological fathers who are alcoholics, suggesting pre conceptual paternal alcohol consumption negatively impacts their offspring.’
These defects result from ‘epigenetics’, the altering of DNA by environmental factors such as eating and drinking, and can happen in the womb and be handed down many generations.Their research, based on studies carried out on both humans and animals, also revealed that the older a father gets, the higher the chance of schizophrenia, autism and birth defects in his children.
Prof Kitlinska added: ‘To really understand the epigenetic influences of a child, we need to study the interplay between maternal and paternal effects, as opposed to considering each in isolation.’