While Father's Day gives every dad in the world a reason to celebrate, here's one proof men — who are planning to become fathers — should hold off on that celebratory drink.
New research is strengthening the link between a father's drinking behavior and the potential birth defects of his children, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Researchers have found that up to 75 percent of children suffering from FASD are born to biological fathers who have problems with alcohol. The new report suggested a biological father's drinking behavior has negative impacts on his unborn children.
"We know the nutritional, hormonal and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response and gene expression in her offspring," said senior researcher Joanna Kitlinska, Ph.D.
The findings showed that the same can be said with the biological fathers whose age, lifestyle and drinking behaviors can affect the molecules involved in gene function.
"In this way, a father can affect not only his immediate offspring, but future generations as well," added Kitlinska.
The report analyzed previously published studies - in both humans and animals - that looked into the association between inherited epigenetic alterations and the biological fathers' data.
The researchers found that the father's age is linked with higher rates of his children developing birth defects, autism and schizophrenia.
The biological father's obesity is also linked to his own children's risks of developing the same condition as well as metabolic changes, diabetes and brain cancer.
Stress is also associated with an offspring's defective behavioral traits while alcohol use is linked to a child's reduced birth weight, total brain size and cognitive function.
On the brighter side, biological fathers who practiced good diets during their pre-adolescent years can potentially bestow lower risks of cardiovascular death not only to his children but also his grandchildren.
The researchers added that this emerging field of research between paternal habits and epigenetic changes in offspring need to be translated into clinically-approved interventions that can alter lifestyle habits.
In order to analyze how these epigenetic changes affect children and future generations, further studies should look into the interaction between the effects coming from both parents instead of studying them separately.
The new report was published in the American Journal of Stem Cells [PDF] on May 15.