Paternal Alcohol Use, Lifestyle Cause Birth Defects

First Posted: May 18, 2016 07:01 AM EDT

Birth defects were found to have a direct link to a father's age, environmental factors and alcohol use. According to researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center, the defects were caused by the epigenetic changes that can likely affect later generations.

The birth defects, which were discovered by the increasing number of researches, revealed that both parents can contribute to their children's health condition, an analysis which  science has just begun to demonstrate. Senior investigator Dr. Joanna Kitlinska said that they are aware of the hormonal, nutritional and psychological environment being provided by the mother, which make changes in the gene expression, cellular response and organ structure in the child. However, the same thing can also be said about the father. Dr. Kitlinska further explained that the father's age and lifestyle can be manifested in molecules controlling the gene function. Hence, affecting the immediate children and also the future generations.

Birth defects such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or FASD can be diagnosed among newborns even when the mother has not taken alcohol. According to Dr. Kitlinska, majority of newborns with FASD have alcoholic fathers. This implies that the pre-conceptual paternal alcohol use can negatively affect the offspring, according to Laboratory Equipment.

The report was based on a review of human, evidence and animal regarding the relationship between the heritable epigenetic programming and the fathers. Some of the studies reviewed include: limited diet of the father during his pre-adolescence years has been associated with lesser risk of cardiovascular death in his offspring and grandchildren; and the father's advanced linked to increased levels of autism, birth defects and schizophrenia in his children.

Birth defects like the significant reduction in the brain size, impaired cognitive function and reduced birth weight among newborns were also found to be caused by the paternal alcohol use. Moreover, it was also found that the father's obesity is associated with changes in regular metabolism, diabetes, the development of brain cancer and enlargement of fat cells, Medical Xpress reported.

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