9 November 2018

Take 7: Effect of paternal excessive drinking on a fetus

Alcohol Clinical

Men can play a big role in limiting or eliminating alcohol use by women during pregnancy, says Dr Doug Shelton, the medical director for children’s health at the Gold Coast Health in NSW.

“We know that most people drink in couples and there have been studies showing that usually drinking is initiated by the male partner and the female partner also participates,” he says.

There’s an organisation called Pregnant Pause in Australia, which promotes the idea that neither partner should drinks during pregnancy, not just the woman, he says.

Mouse studies suggest that fathers who drink in the lead up to conception may also be putting their future child at risk.

“There’s emerging research that shows that alcohol has a direct effect on spermatogenesis,” says Dr Shelton.

So it is possible – but not yet proven in humans – that male consumption of alcohol may have a direct influence on the development of the fetus and may have lifelong effects on the child as they develop over time, he says.

But most of this evidence is in rodents and there are major ethical dilemmas in trying to repeat that in humans, he says.

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