Study: Men Should Cut Back on Drinking Before Conceiving Children

Dads-to-be who binge drink are more than 50% more likely to have kids with congenital heart diseases

Alcohol Affects Sperm
By Tanner Garrity / November 16, 2019 7:06 am

According to a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, parents’ drinking habits before conceiving a child can lead to congenital heart diseases in offspring. CHDs have long been a birth risk for women drinking during pregnancy, but this study pegs the 3-to-6 months before conception as a crucial period during which women and men should avoid alcohol consumption.

For their analysis, researchers assessed 55 studies involving thousands of CHD cases and hundreds of thousands of controls. They concluded that compared to non-drinkers, fathers who drank during the three months before conceiving a child were 44% more likely to have children with a CHD, while dads who binge drank (defined here as five or more drinks during a specific “session”) in that period were 52% more likely to have a baby with a CHD. Drinking mothers-to-be, meanwhile, induced a 16% higher risk for their offspring.

Keep in mind that the conclusion of this study have only displayed a correlation, and not necessarily a hard-and-fast scientific rule. But CHDs are the most common birth defect, affecting tens of thousands of babies in the United States each year, and can lead to struggle in weight gain, shortness of breath, hypoplasia, heart murmur and a litany of other health difficulties in young children.

So if you’re anticipating having kids, even a year or two out, start to think about cutting back on drinking (obviously that’s easier said than done). But according to the researchers behind the study, giving up drinking six months before conception is a safe bet for preventing CDHs in prospective offspring.

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