Alcohol and your son's fertility
By drinking while pregnant, you could be killing your future son's sperm.
The researchers found that if mothers had drunk 4.5 or more drinks a week while pregnant, the sperm concentration
of their sons -measured about 20 years later - was a third lower than in men who were not exposed to alcohol while in the womb.
The study by scientists was presented at the conference of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome. A drink was measured as 12 grams of alcohol, equivalent to one 330ml can of beer, one small (120ml) glass of wine
or one shot of spirits.
"It is possible that drinking alcohol during pregnancy has a harmful effect on the foetal semen-producing tissue in the testes - and thereby on semen quality in later life - but our study is the first of its kind, and more research within this area is needed before any causal link can be established or safe drinking limits proposed," she said in a report of her study.
After adjusting for various confounding factors, the scientists found the sons in the group most exposed to alcohol had an average sperm concentration that was around 32% lower than that in the least exposed group.
The World Health Organization defines a "normal" level of sperm concentration as being approximately 20 million/ml or more, but the chances of conception go up with increased sperm concentration up to 40 million/ml.
"If further research shows that maternal alcohol consumption is a cause of reduced semen concentration in male offspring, then we are a bit closer to an explanation of why semen quality may have decreased during the last decades and why it differs between populations," said Ramlau-Hansen.
The researchers also investigated whether fathers' alcohol consumption had any effect, but found no link.
What are your thoughts on drinking during pregnancy?