When you’re trying for a kid, health concerns are usually directed at your partner. But while they’ll need to lay off the grog, new findings suggest it’s equally important for you to quit the drink in the lead up to pregnancy.
Research published in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reviewed existing studies on the effects of alcohol in the lead up to pregnancy.
The data found that there was a link between a baby’s congenital heart defects and their father’s drinking habits before conception.
Dads-to-be who drank during the three months leading up to conception increased the babies’ chances of developing congenital heart disease by 44 per cent.
Those who were binge drinkers – defined as five or more drinks per session – saw that statistic rise to 52 per cent.
Congenital heart disease is defined as, “one or more abnormalities in your heart’s structure that you’re born with. This most common of birth defects can alter the way blood flows through your heart. Defects range from simple, which might cause no problems, to complex, which can cause life-threatening complication,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
“Binge drinking by would-be parents is a high risk and dangerous behaviour that not only may increase the chance of their baby being born with a heart defect, but also greatly damages their own health,” explained study author Jiabi Qin, of Xiangya School of Public Health, Central South University, Changsha, China.
Qin accepts that sometimes it’s tricky to tell when you might conceive, but ideally, men should aim to cease alcohol consumption at least six months before fertilisation. Meanwhile, women should give up the grog a year out, and avoid it while pregnant.