Daily Bulletin


Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Diana Lucia, PhD candidate, Neuroscience, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland

Abstaining from alcohol during preconception and pregnancy is usually considered to be the woman’s responsibility. The main concern surrounding alcohol exposure during pregnancy often relates to well-established evidence of newborns developing a range of behavioural, physical and cognitive disabilities later in life.

But recent research is also pointing to a link between alcohol and poor sperm development, meaning the onus is on expectant fathers too. A myriad of studies are showing biological fathers who drink alcohol may have a significant role in causing health problems in their children.

Studies are showing paternal alcohol consumption has negative effects at all levels of the male reproductive system. This is as well as altered neurological, behavioural and biochemical outcomes in subsequent generations.

Read more: Hey dad, your health affects your baby’s well-being too

Men and risky drinking

In Australia, men consume alcohol at high or risky levels on a regular basis. National health guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks on any day.

According to the National Alcohol and Drug Knowledgebase, Australian men usually drink more alcohol than women.

Data has shown males are twice more likely than females to consume more than two standard drinks per day on average over a 12-month period (24% compared with 9.8%). And about a third of males said they exceeded the guideline not to drink more than five standard drinks on a single occasion on a monthly basis.

Booze and swimmers

These figures are alarming given the compelling evidence about the impact of excessive, chronic or binge alcohol consumption on sperm, semen quality, fertility and child health.

Read more: Dads get postnatal depression too

Animal studies have shown a single dose of ethanol into the stomach lining (equivalent to a human binge drinking) induces damage to the testis, damaging the cells essential for sperm formation.

In another experimental study, sperm health and fertility was assessed in male rats after administration of alcohol into the stomach for ten weeks. The results confirmed alcohol significantly reduced sperm concentration and the ability of the sperm to move properly. And none of the rats exposed to alcohol fertilised the females, despite confirmation of successful mating.

A myriad of other non-human studies have also shown similar results, suggesting ethanol has the ability to damage sperm and fertility.

Studies in humans have also supported these findings. A recent study of 1,221 young Danish men (18-28 years of age) tracked alcohol consumption in the week preceding the study to determine its effects on semen quality (volume, concentration, total count, and shape).

The results showed sperm concentration, total sperm count and percentage of sperm with normal shape got worse the more the men drank. This association was observed in men reporting at least five units of alcohol in a typical week, but was most pronounced for men with a typical intake of more than 25 units a week. This suggests even modest habitual alcohol consumption of more than five units a week can negatively affect semen quality.

Read more: Mother knows best? Fathers missing in research about kids

A recent review of studies and meta-analysis of population data replicated many of these findings. The main results showed daily alcohol intake at moderate to high levels had a detrimental effect on semen volume and normal shape.

The effects on children

image Studies suggest alcohol use in the preconception period can be detrimental to the health of your baby. from www.shutterstock.com

Limited studies have tracked the drinking patterns of fathers around the time of conception and subsequent health outcomes of the child. But rodent models have shown changes in offspring weight and development, learning and activity, anxiety related behaviours and molecular and physiological effects.

A study also reported the women whose partners consumed ten or more drinks per week prior to conception had two to five times increased risk of miscarriage compared to those whose partners did not drink during preconception.

Other studies provide some preliminary evidence that paternal preconception alcohol use is associated with acute leukemia at high-level use, heart malformation with daily use, microcephaly with low to moderate use, and effects in relation to fetal growth and mild cognitive impairments.

How can alcohol affect kids before they’re born?

The exact mechanism of how alcohol alters developing sperm and the later health outcomes of the foetus is still not yet fully understood. It’s been suggested alcohol can change the micro-environment within the testes, altering the development and maturation of the sperm.

It’s also been suggested alcohol can influence sperm by creating genetic alterations and epigenetic marks. This means changes to gene expression occur without changes to the underlying DNA sequence. These epigenetic marks can be transferred at the time of fertilisation. This can subsequently alter the molecular makeup of the early embryo, leading to alterations in foetal development and the potential to impair offspring health.

The biggest hurdle for researchers now is continuing to translate findings from the basic sciences to more sophisticated research in humans. The next stage is to identify patterns of alcohol use by men during the preconception period on foetal and childhood outcomes in the Australian context.

But most importantly we need to realise decisions about alcohol use during the preconception period are not the sole responsibility of women. We need to be talking to men about these issues to ensure healthy outcomes for the baby.

Authors: Diana Lucia, PhD candidate, Neuroscience, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland

Read more http://theconversation.com/its-not-just-mums-who-need-to-avoid-alcohol-when-trying-for-a-baby-83794

Writers Wanted

$7.6 billion and 11% of researchers: our estimate of how much Australian university research stands to lose by 2024

arrow_forward

Trump's TikTok deal explained: who is Oracle? Why Walmart? And what does it mean for our data?

arrow_forward

What Australian Casinos Can Learn from Online Casinos in New Zealand

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How To Remove Rubbish More Effectively

It can be a big task to remove household rubbish. The hardest part is finding the best way to get rid of your junk. It can be very overwhelming to know exactly where to start with so many option...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Pass Skills Certifications Tests

Developing the right set of skills is valuable not only to your career, but for life in general. You can get certified in these skills through obtaining a license. Without a certified license, y...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Secure Home-Based Entrepreneurs from Cyber Threats

Small businesses are becoming a trend nowadays. The people with entrepreneurial skills and minds are adopting home-based businesses because of their advantage and ease of working from home. But...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion