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Research Letter
April 19, 2021

Association of Preconception Paternal Alcohol Consumption With Increased Fetal Birth Defect Risk

Author Affiliations
  • 1Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai, China
  • 2Institute of Science and Technology for Brain-Inspired Intelligence, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
  • 3Department of Maternal and Child Health, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People´s Republic of China, Beijing, China
JAMA Pediatr. Published online April 19, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.0291

Maternal alcohol consumption is closely associated with alcohol-related birth defects and neurodevelopment,1 and therefore, it is widely recommended for women to quit consuming alcohol before and during pregnancy.2 Paternal alcohol exposure biologically increases the risk of genetic and epigenetic sperm abnormalities.3 The epidemiological association is less evident and likely interfered with by maternal confounders, such as a maternal alcohol consumption rate as high as 30% in Western countries.4,5 Our previous preconception care project showed that among Chinese married couples, who were a unique study population, nearly one-third of fathers and only 3% of mothers consumed alcohol before pregnancy,4,5 suggesting minor effects of maternal alcohol consumption on offspring, and the Chinese population is a good model to analyze the association of preconception paternal drinking and birth defect. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the association between paternal drinking before pregnancy and birth defects to provide supportive evidence for paternal alcohol cessation in preconception health care.

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