Fathers-to-be have been warned to avoid alcohol or risk affecting the health and well-being of their unborn child. Paternal alcohol use can lead to decreased newborn birth weight, marked reduction in overall brain size and impaired cognitive function.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) has been a condition attributed solely to the mother who drinks in pregnancy. The woman carries the foetus, and alcohol passes through her bloodstream to the womb. However, research has found that the baby’s health can also be affected by the father’s lifestyle habits.
A study at Georgetown University Medical Centre claims a father’s alcohol intake, age, diet and psychological state could all make a difference. Joanna Kitlinska [an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology at Georgetown] claimed that up to 75% of children with FASD have biological fathers who are alcoholics.
The Georgetown study looks at the impact of genetics: the changes in the father’s genetic make-up that could potentially impact on his baby and also change the genetic make-up impacting on future generations as well. “We need to focus on a public health message for mums and dads: there is no safe amount of alcohol for a pregnancy,” [obstetrician Mave Eogan said].