Alcohol consumption by parents trying to conceive a child increases the risk of the offspring developing congenital heart disease. Research finds that aspiring mothers, as well as fathers, should both avoid consuming alcohol before conception to protect the baby from congenital heart defects.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a problem with the heart’s function and structure that is present at the child’s birth. Over 1.3 million babies are affected by CHDs every year. The research utilized 55 studies spanning 28 years between 1991 and 2019 that involved over 41,000 congenital heart disease cases. The researchers used this data to study the associations between maternal and paternal alcohol exposures and their offspring’s risk of CHD. It found that parental exposure to alcohol was significantly associated with the risk of CHDs in their offspring. A positive relationship in which an increase in parental alcohol consumption led to a gradual increase in CHDs in offspring.

Furthermore, fathers drinking alcohol three months before pregnancy and during the first trimester led to a 44% increased risk of CHD within the baby. Surprisingly, for mothers drinking alcohol three months before pregnancy and during the first trimester led to a 16% increased risk of CHD for the baby. Binge drinking, or having five or more drinks at a time, led to a 52% higher chance of these congenital disabilities among the offspring of fathers who engaged in this behavior, compared to 16% of mothers.

Preventing alcohol exposure during the preconception and conception periods is vital to battling the occurrence of CHDs in babies. Conclusively, research recommends that couples trying to conceive need to avoid alcohol, with fathers-to-be abstaining for at least six months before conception. Furthermore, mothers-to-be should abstain from alcohol consumption for one year before conception and the duration of the pregnancy.

Looking for Help?

Although the study does not prove that paternal drinking is more harmful to the baby than maternal drinking, it does warrant further research into the causes of CHD in offspring. Regardless, females and males planning a family should avoid alcohol to lessen the negative effects on their baby. Alcohol use is not only harmful to a developing baby, as evidenced by research like this. Alcohol and drug use harm the user, and its effects can persist and be passed on to offspring even months after the last use. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 817-381-9741 or visit us online.


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