Fathers Drinking Before Pregnancy May Cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Feb 17, 2014 07:34 AM EST | By Staff Writer

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We all know that women who drink alcohol while pregnant can cause significant problems for their unborn children. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) can cause issues such as retarded intellect, stunted growth and nervous system abnormalities. Now, though, researchers have found that it's not just mothers who should watch what they drink. It turns out that dads may also have more accountability.

In order to find out whether alcohol could impact a fetus through a father, the researchers studied mice. More specifically, they exposed male mice to varying concentrations of alcohol. They then mated these mice and examined the fetuses that resulted from the breeding.

So what did the scientists discover? They found new evidence that paternal alcohol consumption can actually directly impact fetal development. Several fetuses who were sired by males exposed to alcohol suffered abnormal organ development and brain development when compared to fetuses sired by mice who were exposed only to saline.

The findings show that lifestyle plays a crucial role in a fetus's development--even when it's the father's lifestyle. The researchers believe that alcohol consumption affects genes in sperm which are responsible for normal fetal development. This means that if a woman is trying to get pregnant, the father may just want to drink a little less.

Until now, a father's lifestyle choices have not been seen to have any repercussions on their unborn children. Yet this new study provides definitive evidence that this isn't the case. On the contrary, it seems that a father's lifestyle could make all of the difference when it comes to producing a healthy child.

The findings are published in the journal Animal Cells and Systems.

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