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By: Jackie Franks, MPH, CHES, CPS  

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has long been associated with negative effects on fetal development. However, the influence of the father’s alcohol use on a baby’s development has gained attention in recent years. A recent study published in the Andrology journal sheds light on the potential impact of paternal alcohol consumption on the health and development of infants. 

The research delves into the effects of paternal alcohol intake on sperm quality, pregnancy outcomes, and fetal development. The findings suggest that a father’s alcohol consumption prior to conception can indeed have significant implications for the health and well-being of the baby. 

Sperm Quality 

One of the key aspects highlighted in the study is the potential link between paternal alcohol use and impaired sperm quality. The research indicates that alcohol consumption by men may lead to alterations in sperm DNA, affecting its integrity and potentially influencing the health of the embryo. These changes in sperm quality can contribute to a higher risk of developmental issues in the offspring. 

Pregnancy Outcomes 

This study draws attention to the impact of paternal alcohol consumption on pregnancy outcomes. It suggests a correlation between pre-conception alcohol intake and a higher likelihood of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth, low birth weight, and an increased susceptibility to certain health conditions in newborns, like symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. 

These effects are thought to be caused by gene modifications in sperm caused by alcohol use.  

Impact on Fetal Development and Infants 

This study demonstrates the importance of pre-conception health for both prospective mothers and fathers. While the focus has traditionally been on maternal lifestyle choices during pregnancy, this study highlights the significance of the father’s health and habits before conception in determining the baby’s well-being. 

Understanding these implications is crucial for healthcare professionals in providing comprehensive pre-conception counseling regarding alcohol use. It emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to reproductive health, encompassing the lifestyle choices of both partners well before conception occurs. 

Experts recommend dad abstain from alcohol beginning three months prior to conception.  


Further research is necessary to fully understand the link between paternal alcohol consumption and infant development. The awareness generated by studies like this one serves as a reminder of the broader impact of lifestyle choices on the health and well-being of future generations. 

Learn More 

Andrology- Alterations in sperm RNAs persist after alcohol cessation and correlate with epididymal mitochondrial dysfunction  

HealthDay- Men who want to be dads should take a break from alcohol  

Indiana Alliance’s FASD Guide 

Resources for Expectant Parents 

What is FASD? Check Out Our FASD Resource Directory Drinking & Pregnancy

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