Want to Be a New Father?
Quit Using Alcohol First

Father and son
Photo by Moyo Studio/iStockphoto.com

In many ways, an expecting father's health choices directly impact the health of his newborn. New scientific research has been published that indicates a prospective father should quit using alcohol before conceiving. Thanks to these studies, we now know that both the mother and the father need to be as healthy as possible before conception, during pregnancy, and in the years following birth.

A Healthy Baby Depends on Healthy Mothers and Fathers

Throughout history, the responsibility of healthy birthing has always fallen on prospective mothers, not on the fathers. Because it is the mother who carries the unborn child and then nurtures it after birth, the focus has always been on the mother's health and wellbeing. All of that is beginning to change.

As science continues to advance and evolve, it's been found that the father's health and wellbeing are also particularly critical, especially in the months (even years) leading up to conception (called preconception). Paternal alcohol consumption plays a significant role in fetal health and infant health. A range of congenital difficulties have been linked back to paternal alcohol consumption during the preconception period, creating an entirely new list of health recommendations for fathers-to-be to adhere to before conception.

Paternal alcohol consumption harms sperm, increasing the risk for a miscarriage. And that's just one harmful side effect. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other congenital problems can also result from paternal alcohol consumption during preconception. And there are other behavioral and environmental factors. For example, a mother-to-be who shares a home with an alcohol-using father-to-be is herself more likely to drink, further endangering the baby.

Alcohol Consumption by Fathers-to-Be
Could Lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Historically, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD) has only been attributed to mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy. Yet new data shows that expecting fathers can also cause FASD due to their drinking alcohol in the months leading up to conception. As a result, fathers-to-be have been warned by the medical community to avoid alcohol completely during preconception to improve health outcomes for their children. Paternal alcohol consumption before conception can lead to a host of harmful effects in newborns, like decreased newborn birth weight, impaired cognitive function, and reduced brain size and development.

The data was further expanded in a new study by the Georgetown University Medical Centre, which found that factors such as a father's alcohol intake, age, diet, and psychological condition could all make a difference in the health of the newborn. To take a look at just one example, it was found that 75 percent of children with FASD have biological fathers who drink alcohol to excess.

  “We need to focus on a public health message for moms and dads: there is no safe amount of alcohol for a pregnancy.”

According to obstetrician Mave Eogan, “We need to focus on a public health message for moms and dads: there is no safe amount of alcohol for a pregnancy.” She makes a valid point. For mothers-to-be and fathers-to-be, there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption in the months leading up to conception, the months of the pregnancy itself, and the months/years following birth. From both a physiological and psychological standpoint, abstaining from alcohol affords the best chances possible for having a baby that is not adversely affected by FASD or other alcohol-related syndromes.

Offspring Development and Alcohol-Related Struggles

Not only does paternal alcohol use seem to have a biological effect on children, but there is the hereditary phenomenon of alcohol misuse and alcohol addiction, a phenomenon that crops up in children born to parents who misused alcohol before, during, and after pregnancy. For example, the National Association for Children of Alcoholics reported that the sons of alcohol-addicted fathers are 4 times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction when compared to the sons of non-alcohol-abusing fathers. Furthermore, the children of alcohol-addicted parents are still at least twice as likely to develop alcohol addiction even if they were adopted.

Yet another study, this one published in the journal “Alcohol Health and Research World” by study author Dr. Theodore J. Cicero, concluded that, “Studies suggest that alcohol itself may be a direct toxicant to sperm, inducing subtle yet marked deficits in the offspring of alcohol-exposed fathers.”

  "Studies suggest that alcohol itself may be a direct
toxicant to sperm, inducing subtle yet marked deficits in the offspring of alcohol-exposed fathers."  

It seems irrefutable that a pattern of alcohol abuse in fathers has pronounced, harmful effects on the psychological, behavioral, and biological development of their progeny.

The Need for Getting Off of Drugs and Alcohol Before Having Children

Alcohol addiction is one of the most horrific yet also one of the most underreported addiction issues in the world today. For those who struggle with alcohol addiction, they must get off of alcohol before they have children. Bringing a child into the world before addressing one's addiction is not fair to the child. It's essential to address the addiction first so that the parent can provide the best possible care for their child.

If you know someone who is thinking about having a child but who is still struggling with an addiction to alcohol, please do everything you can to help them get into a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center first. It’s the right thing to do for them and the right thing to do for their future children. Please call Narconon today to take the first step towards helping your loved one. Do not wait until it is too late to get them help.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, MCAP, LADC, RAS



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.