NOFAS Statement on the Effects of Male Alcohol Use

Current biomedical research is exploring what effect a male’s alcohol use could have on his sperm production. Further research is necessary to determine if alcohol-affected sperm can cause physical and/or developmental disabilities in a father’s offspring.

If research determines that a father’s alcohol-damaged sperm at conception is associated with birth defects, an affected child would not have FASD but a yet-to-be-determined condition linked to pre-conceptual paternal alcohol consumption. While a father’s alcohol use during his partner’s pregnancy does not directly affect the biological development of the child, it is possible that a father’s alcohol consumption while his partner is pregnant could indirectly serve as a harmful influence by encouraging her to use alcohol or otherwise contribute to an unhealthy environment.

More than forty years of research has confirmed that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) can occur when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. Alcohol is a neurotoxin that can interfere with healthy human development at any time during the nine months of a pregnancy. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol crosses the placenta in her blood supply and reaches the embryo or fetus where it can cause a spectrum of physical and functional birth defects. Since 1981, the U. S. Surgeon General has advised pregnant women to abstain from alcohol due to the risk of birth defects and because there is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.