It’s a known fact that exposure to alcohol during pregnancy may make newborns develop several behavioral and cognitive problems later in life. Refraining from alcohol before or during pregnancy is generally considered a woman’s responsibility. However, studies have brought the onus on expectant fathers too to refrain from drinking for the well-being of newborns.
Many studies have linked paternal drinking to development of birth defects in newborns. A May 2017 review, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, suggested that paternal traits, including alcohol consumption, obesity and tobacco smoking, might pose risks to offspring’s health.
A 2016 study that appeared in the American Journal of Stem Cells found that alcoholic fathers might unknowingly affect the organ structure and gene expression in their offspring. In turn, it may increase the risk of problems such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). In addition to FASD, paternal alcohol use was also found to cause decreased birth weight, impaired cognitive function and significant reduction in overall brain size. The study also showed an association between factors like father’s age, diet and stress level, and health of his children. For example, an obese father was likely to have children born with potential risk of developing diabetes, obesity and brain cancer.
In some cases, children with non-alcoholic mothers might also have the risk of developing significant birth defects and learning difficulties. “Up to 75 percent of children with FASD have biological fathers who are alcoholics, suggesting that pre-conceptual paternal alcohol consumption negatively impacts their offspring,” suggested Dr. Joanna Kitlinska from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center.
According to a Dutch study published in the online journal BMJ Open in 2014, even the moderate alcohol consumption – at least five units every week – may lead to poorer sperm quality in otherwise healthy young men. The higher the weekly quantity of alcohol consumed, the worse the sperm quality, the study reveals. In the wake of the findings, researchers advised young men to “steer clear of habitual drinking.”
A 2013 study, published in the journal Animal Cells and Systems, linked drinking habits of fathers to harmful repercussion on their unborn children. According to the study conducted on mice, paternal alcohol exposure may have detrimental effects on major organ weights of postnatal offspring. The study concluded that paternal alcohol consumption before conception was associated with a potential risk to fetal and postnatal development.
Alcohol addiction can be treated
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016, 136.7 million people aged 12 or older were current alcohol users in the United States, while 65.3 million reported binge alcohol use in the past month. It means that almost half of current alcohol users were binge drinking in the past month. The NSDUH data also shows that 16.3 million Americans aged 12 or older reported heavy alcohol use in the past month.
Notably, alcohol addiction is treatable with timely therapeutic intervention. A research suggested complete absence of symptoms after one year in about one-third of people who were treated for alcohol problems. Alcoholism treatment typically begins with detoxification. It helps the patient deal with withdrawal symptoms and prepare the body for subsequent treatment. Following detox, three approaches are recommended for treating alcohol-related problems – medications, behavioral treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and mutual support groups. Experts also advice a combination of medication and CBT for many patients.
It’s always advisable to seek professional help for alcohol addiction. Sovereign Health’s alcohol detox centers in California specialize in systematic detox program to help people with alcohol addiction recover faster. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-682-0103 for more information on our alcohol detox clinics in California. You can also connect to our representatives through online chat.