Alcohol consumption by men may increase risk of birth defects in newborns

It’s well-known that pregnant women are cautioned to refrain from drinking alcohol to prevent severe congenital disabilities such as fetal alcohol syndrome. But a new study is showing that women are not the only part of the equation who need to curb their alcohol consumption – men who are trying to conceive should also lay off from drinking at least three months before conception of a baby.

Problems of alcohol consumption by men when trying to conceive

For decades, the effects of paternal influences on a developing baby’s health have routinely not been considered a main factor. Obstetricians routinely focus any messaging regarding alcohol consumption towards women. It has always been assumed that women who become pregnant are the primary reason for fetal anomalies that occur due to drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption by men has had little to no consideration of their actions that could lead to a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a lifelong disability results in abnormal facial features, attention-deficient issues, low birth weight, growth problems, and brain damage. 

Why men who want to be a dad, should lay off alcohol at least three months prior to conception

New research states that alcohol messaging during pre- and during pregnancy should also include alcohol consumption by men when couples are trying to conceive a baby. 

The reason is that lately, within the past five to ten years, scientists have observed that under some conditions, a man’s paternal influence of drinking alcohol could also expose the developing fetus to the harms of this substance, leading to abnormalities in fetal development.

A study published in Andrology has found that sperm from men who consume alcohol regularly can be linked to defects of a fetus’s brain and overall development that is associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, including other complications of pregnancy. The reason is that the effects of alcohol a man has consumed take over a month to leave a man’s sperm due to the epididymis retaining the alcohol-induced signature of mitochondrial dysfunction one month after alcohol cessation. 

Alcohol is known to stress the liver, which leads to the overproduction of various chemicals. These chemicals can stretch out the duration of the effects of alcohol for a more extended period of time than thought. The stress the liver experiences when men drink creates an environment the reproduction system interprets as bad oxidative stress, negatively influencing the composition of a man’s sperm and the environment the developing baby is living in.

The study also revealed that this negative effect is not just in men who are already confirmed alcoholics. Even men who consume three to four beers a week and are not feeling inebriated can still experience chemical changes throughout the body that may influence a stronger tendency towards fetal abnormalities such as FAS.

To improve pregnancy outcomes leading to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, researchers recommend that men abstain from drinking alcohol for at least three months prior to attempting conception. 


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 






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