Doctors usually pay attention to the female side, but the male factor regarding fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is as important. We have to remember that only half of the genetic material comes from the mother and the other half from the father. Michael Golding is a professor of physiology at the Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. He has a special interest in the male contribution to fetal alcohol syndrome. A publication with the name “the conversation” reviewed the issues of both male and female contributions to fetal alcohol syndrome. I am briefly reviewing the male factors to this problem here.
What is fetal alcohol syndrome?
Medicine has given fetal alcohol syndrome a new name: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.This indicates that there are a number of conditions that can occur when a person was exposed to alcohol prior to conception and birth. The results of the exposure to alcohol can be physical in nature or result in problems with behavior or learning. There can be a characteristic facial appearance: small eyes, a thin upper lip and a short-upturned nose. There can also be deformities of joints, limbs and fingers. In addition, patients with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder often have very slow growth before and after birth. They also suffer frequently from vision and hearing problems. Attention-deficit-disorder is very common among children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
What diseases can be passed on by females and what by males?
When women consume alcohol during the pregnancy the severity of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) depends on the following factors. The age of the mother (with older age more severe FASD) and higher pregnancy number. If there is a history of spontaneous miscarriages or stillbirths, this, too leads to more severe FASD. Apart from the amount of drinking that matters, there are certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies that researchers determined. Major nutritional deficiencies that lead to more severe FASD are: lower intake of riboflavin, calcium, and DPA (one of the omega-3 fatty acids). In addition, zinc and B vitamins are also important. Zinc and copper deficiency was found in the Ukraine and Russia among drinking mothers.
Male contribution to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
Professor Michael Golding has done research regarding the male contribution to the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Sperm does not only carry genetic DNA, which combines with the DNA from the mother’s egg. But there is also epigenetic information, which sperm pass onto the fetus. When the father drinks heavily, he causes defects of the face, a small skull and brain, and heart defects in the fetus. Dr. Golding confirmed this both in mouse and human studies. A research paper described how sperm carries a vast amount of epigenetic information “meaning heritable shifts in the way genes are expressed that don’t result from changes in the DNA sequence – that strongly influences fetal development and child health.
Doctors tend to ignore the male contribution to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
Yet most doctors and other health care providers do not take into account the influence of paternal health and lifestyle choices on child development.” Dr. Golding published a detailed summary about how the male contribution to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder works, if the father was a heavy drinker.
This outline is about the male factors regarding fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Physicians traditionally pay attention to the lifestyle of the mother. But equally important is the lifestyle of the father. Both share the responsibility not to drink alcohol well before the pregnancy and then during all of the pregnancy. Otherwise, the child is suffering terrible face and brain deformities including heart defects that a father can transmit through defective sperm. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder can also cause attention deficit syndrome, deformities of joints, extremities and fingers.
Specialists now even recommend for both parents to take multiple vitamin and mineral supplements. This is to prevent vitamin ad mineral deficiencies. But most of all, both partners must avoid any alcohol before they plan a pregnancy.