Nav: Home

Review finds fathers' age, lifestyle associated with birth defects

May 15, 2016

WASHINGTON -- A growing body of research is revealing associations between birth defects and a father's age, alcohol use and environmental factors, say researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center. They say these defects result from epigenetic alterations that can potentially affect multiple generations.

The study, published in the American Journal of Stem Cells, suggest both parents contribute to the health status of their offspring -- a common sense conclusion which science is only now beginning to demonstrate, says the study's senior investigator, Joanna Kitlinska, PhD, an associate professor in biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology.

"We know the nutritional, hormonal and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response and gene expression in her offspring," she says.

"But our study shows the same thing to be true with fathers -- his lifestyle, and how old he is, can be reflected in molecules that control gene function," she says. "In this way, a father can affect not only his immediate offspring, but future generations as well."

For example, a newborn can be diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), even though the mother has never consumed alcohol, Kitlinska says. "Up to 75 percent of children with FASD have biological fathers who are alcoholics, suggesting that preconceptual paternal alcohol consumption negatively impacts their offspring."

The report is a review of evidence, human and animal, published to date on the link between fathers and heritable epigenetic programming.

Among the studies reviewed are ones that find:
  • Advanced age of a father is correlated with elevated rates of schizophrenia, autism, and birth defects in his children;
  • A limited diet during a father's pre-adolescence has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular death in his children and grandchildren;
  • Paternal obesity is linked to enlarged fat cells, changes in metabolic regulation, diabetes, obesity and development of brain cancer;
  • Psychosocial stress on the father is linked to defective behavioral traits in his offspring; and
  • Paternal alcohol use leads to decreased newborn birth weight, marked reduction in overall brain size and impaired cognitive function.
"This new field of inherited paternal epigenetics needs to be organized into clinically applicable recommendations and lifestyle alternations," Kitlinska says. "And to really understand the epigenetic influences of a child, we need to study the interplay between maternal and paternal effects, as opposed to considering each in isolation."
-end-
The study's co-authors are Jonathan Day, MS, Soham Savani, MS, Ben Krempley, MS, and Matthew Nguyen, MS, graduates of Georgetown's Special Masters Program in Physiology.

This study was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants (1R01CA123211, 1R03CA178809, R01CA197964 and 1R21CA198698).

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC's mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR001409-01) from the National Institutes of Health.

Georgetown University Medical Center

Related Alcohol Articles:

This is your brain on alcohol (video)
It's almost time to ring in 2017. And since most New Year's celebrations include alcohol, Reactions' latest episode explains the chemistry behind its effects -- drunkenness, frequent bathroom breaks and occasionally poor decision-making.
Heavy alcohol use changes adolescents' brain
Heavy alcohol use during adolescence alters the development of brain, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital.
Maryland's 2011 alcohol sales tax reduced alcohol sales, study suggests
Maryland's 2011 increase in the alcohol sales tax appears to have led to fewer purchases of beer, wine and liquor in the state, suggesting reduced alcohol use, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research indicates.
Alcohol related deaths are likely to increase after cuts in alcohol taxation
Alcohol related deaths are most likely set to increase in England as incomes outstrip rises in taxation, argue experts in The BMJ today.
Alcohol aromatherapy eases nausea in the ER
Nauseated patients in the emergency department who sniffed pads saturated with isopropyl alcohol were twice as likely to obtain relief from their symptoms as nauseated patients who sniffed pads saturated with saline solution, according to a study published online today in Annals of Emergency Medicine ('Isopropyl Alcohol Nasal Inhalation for Nausea in the Emergency Department: A Randomized Controlled Trial').
Alcohol ads linked to teen alcohol brand choices
Overall exposure to brand-specific alcohol advertising is a significant predictor of underage youth alcohol brand consumption, with youth ages 13 to 20 more than five times more likely to consume brands that advertise on national television and 36 percent more likely to consume brands that advertise in national magazines compared to brands that don't advertise in these media.
Should women consume alcohol during pregnancy?
In The BMJ this week, experts discuss the evidence and current guidelines on the controversial topic of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
The Lancet: Harmful alcohol use linked with increased risk of alcohol-related cancers and injury
A new study of alcohol use in countries of all income levels shows that current use increases the risk of alcohol-related cancers and injury, with no reduction in risk of mortality or cardiovascular disease overall.
Web interventions for alcohol misuse
A systematic evidence review published in Annals of Internal Medicine finds that low-intensity electronic interventions may slightly reduce alcohol consumption among adults and college students, but may be ineffective for reducing binge-drinking frequency and the negative social consequences associated with alcohol misuse.
Marijuana users substitute alcohol at 21
A recent study looked at marijuana and alcohol use in people between the ages of 18 and 24.

Related Alcohol Reading:

The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge: Your Simple Guide To Easily Reduce Or Quit Alcohol
by James Swanwick (Author)

YOU’RE NOT AN ALCOHOLIC BUT SOMETIMES DRINK TOO MUCH… Are you often unmotivated, stressed, lacking energy and tired? Are you sick of hangovers? Do you want to stop missing out on life, regain your health, improve your relationships and enjoy greater control, clarity, focus and freedom? When you quit alcohol for just 30 days, you can transform your life. You will look and feel better, save and make money and be happier. James Swanwick is a former social drinker. He is an Australian-American entrepreneur, award-winning journalist and former ESPN SportsCenter anchor. In this groundbreaking... View Details


Alcohol Lied to Me: The Intelligent Way to Escape Alcohol Addiction
by Craig Beck (Author)

Craig Beck is a well-regarded family man with two children, a nice home and a successful media career. A director of several companies & at one time the trustee of a large children’s charity. Craig was a successful & functioning professional man in spite of a ‘2 bottles of wine a night’ drinking habit. For 20 years he struggled with problem drinking, all the time refusing to label himself an alcoholic because he didn't believe he met the stereotypical image that the word portrayed. He tried countless ways to cut down; attempting ‘dry months’, banning himself from drinking spirits,... View Details


Alcohol Explained
by William Porter (Author)

Alcohol Explained is the definitive, ground-breaking guide to alcohol and alcoholism. It explains how alcohol affects human beings on a chemical, physiological and psychological level, from those first drinks right up to chronic alcoholism. Alcoholism and problem drinking seems illogical to those on the outside, indeed it is equally perplexing for the alcoholic or problem drinker. This book provides a logical, easy to follow explanation of the phenomenon and detailed instructions on how to beat it. Despite being entirely scientific and factual in nature the book is presented in an accessible... View Details


Allen Carr's Easyway to Control Alcohol
by Allen Carr (Author)

Allen Carr established himself as the world's greatest authority on helping people stop smoking and his internationally best-selling Easy Way to Stop Smoking has been published in over 40 languages and sold more than 10 million copies.In his Easy Way to Control Alcohol Allen applies his revolutionary method to drinking. With startling insight into why we drink and clear, simple, step-by-step instructions, he shows you the way to escape from the "alcohol trap" in the time it takes to read this book.His unique method removes the feeling of deprivation and works without using willpower. Allen... View Details


Alcohol: How to Give It Up and Be Glad You Did
by Philip Tate PhD (Author), Albert Ellis (Introduction)

This practical, comprehensive, and easy to use book helps alcohol abusers understand their behavior, but provides practical steps that anyone can use to solve an alcohol problem. Written by a cognitive-behavioral psychologist, this book includes chapters on overcoming low self-esteem, depression, stress, attending self-help groups, and living a better life after quitting. Each chapter contains specific self-help techniques. Recommended by SMART Recovery.
View Details


Alcohol: Social Drinking in Cultural Context (Routledge Series for Creative Teaching and Learning in Anthropology)
by Janet Chrzan (Author)

Alcohol: Social Drinking in Cultural Context critically examines alcohol use across cultures and through time. This short text is a framework for students to self-consciously examine their beliefs about and use of alcohol, and a companion text for teaching the primary concepts of anthropology to first-or second year college students.

View Details


Alcohol: Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters
by Alexei Plutser-Sarno (Author), Damon Murray (Editor), Stephen Sorrell (Editor)

Soviet propaganda against the demon drink: the latest in Fuel’s Russian pop culture series
From the acclaimed authors of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedias and Soviet Space Dogs comes Alcohol, a glorious and exhaustive collection of previously unpublished Soviet anti-alcohol posters. The book includes examples from the 1960s through to the 1980s, but focuses on posters produced during Mikhail Gorbachev’s campaign initiated in 1985. These posters attempted to sober up Soviet citizens by forcing them to confront the issues associated with excessive... View Details


ServSafe Alcohol: Fundamentals of Responsible Alcohol Service with Answer Sheet (2nd Edition)
by National Restaurant Association (Author)

ServSafe Alcohol is vital, practical and current responsible alcohol service training. It implements the same approach ServSafe® pioneered for the industry's most recognized food safety training and certification. ServSafe Alcohol includes the latest studies and science-based information, explores real-world situations and makes it all engaging and accessible with the latest instructional design techniques. That makes ServSafe Alcohol a smart training solution for every operation and every classroom.  The ServSafe Alcohol program was developed with input from experts... View Details


Alcohol and Drug Counselor Exam Practice Questions: ADC Practice Tests & Review for the International Examination for Alcohol & Drug Counselors (Mometrix Test Preparation)
by ADC Exam Secrets Test Prep Team (Author)

***Your #1 Alcohol and Drug Counselor Practice Test Resource***

Alcohol and Drug Counselor Exam Practice Questions are the simplest way to prepare for the Alcohol and Drug Counselor test. Practice is an essential part of preparing for a test and improving a test taker's chance of success. The best way to practice taking a test is by going through lots of Alcohol and Drug Counselor practice questions.

If someone has never taken a Alcohol and Drug Counselor practice test, then they are unprepared for the types of questions and answer choices that they will... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."