We keep hearing about how women should prepare their body to conceive a baby. However, studies indicate that men should also follow certain practices to avoid problems in the development of their future child.

In this regard, research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, points out that, among other things, men are advised to stop drinking alcohol at least six months before they attempt to conceive.

Why is it contraindicated up to 6 months before conceiving a child?

Drinking alcohol three or fewer months before pregnancy or during the first trimester was associated with a 44 per cent higher risk of congenital heart disease in the case of fathers, and 16 per cent in that of mothers, compared to those that weren't drinking. Excessive alcohol consumption, defined as five or more drinks per session, was related to a 52% higher probability of birth defects in men and 16% for women.

"Excessive alcohol consumption by prospective parents is a high-risk and dangerous behaviour that can not only increase the chances of their baby being born with a heart defect but also greatly damages their own health," recalls the author of the study, Dr Jiabi Qin, from the Xiangya School of Public Health, South Central University- Changsha (China). The doctor explains that results suggest that when couples try to have a baby, men should not consume alcohol for at least six months before fertilization, while women should stop consuming alcohol a year earlier and avoid it during pregnancy.

Alcohol is an enemy to the baby’s heart

Alcohol is a known teratogen and has been linked to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). “About one in four children with FASD have a congenital heart disease, indicating that alcohol may also be involved in these disorders”, says the doctor. Previous studies conducted to find the link between alcohol and congenital heart disease were more or less based on future mothers who consume alcohol. These results were broadly inconclusive.

This is the first meta-analysis examining the role of paternal alcohol consumption. Researchers compiled the data published between 1991 and 2019, which amounted to 55 studies, including 41,747 babies with congenital heart disease and 297,587 without them. Dr Qin adds: "We observed a gradually increasing risk of congenital heart disease as paternal alcohol consumption increased. The relationship was not statistically significant in the lower amounts."

Know your sex score.

Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP