Both Parents-to-Be Should Avoid Alcohol Before Conception Interview with:
Dr Jiabi Qin, MD, PhD
Xiangya School of Public Health
Central South University
Changsha, China What is the background for this study?

Response: Congenital heart defects (CHDs), defined as a gross structural abnormality of the heart or intrathoracic great vessels occurring in embryonic period and affected nearly 1% of lives births, is the most common of all congenital defects and remains a major cause of mortality and morbidity in fancy and childhood. With a worldwide prevalence of CHDs now estimated to be 1.35 million newborns with CHDs every year, the number of CHDs is steadily increasing, representing a major global health burden.

The association between maternal alcohol exposure and the risk of congenital heart defects (CHDs) has been explored, but little is known about the association between paternal alcohol exposure and the risk of CHDs. Furthermore, subsequent studies regarding the association between alcohol exposure and the risk of congenital heart defects have not yield consistent results. Therefore, given the inconsistency of existing literatures and insufficient evidence of primary studies, further an update meta-analysis based on the new and previously is evidently required. Especially, to our knowledge, any meta-analysis between paternal alcohol exposure and the risk of CHDs have not been conducted. What are the main findings?

Response: Our meta-analysis indicated that parents having alcohol exposure experienced a significantly increased risk of CHDs in offspring. For example, the risk of total congenital heart defects in offspring was significantly increased by 16% among mothers experiencing alcohol exposure, and 44% among fathers having alcohol exposure. For specific CHD phenotypes, the present study suggested mothers having alcohol consumption were at a significantly higher risk of TOF in offspring, compared with those without alcohol exposure. However, our study did not find a statistically significant association between parental alcohol exposure and the remaining phenotypes of CHDs because of limited number of included studies for specific phenotypes. Additionally, our meta-analysis showed a nonlinear dose-response relationship between parental alcohol exposures and risk of total CHDs. A gradually increased risk of total congenital heart defects was observed with the increasing of parental alcohol consumption, although there were no statistically significant differences at the level of low exposure doses. What should readers take away from your report?

Response:   We think that if women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, we usually suggested that parental should resolutely avoid alcohol consumption six months or one-year before and during pregnancy. For reader, our findings highlight the necessary of improving health awareness to prevent alcohol exposures during the preconception and conception periods. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response:   Although the teratogenic effect of ethanol exposure has been fully proved, the underlying mechanisms involved in the association between parental alcohol exposure and congenital heart defects risk in offspring remain uncertain, so the underlying mechanisms should be researched in the future. In addition, give full consideration to the limitation of the research, multi-center, prospective and larger-sample studies need to be carried out to further confirm our results in the future.


Senmao Zhang, Lesan Wang, Tubao Yang, Lizhang Chen, Lijuan Zhao, Tingting Wang, Letao Chen, Ziwei Ye, Zan Zheng, Jiabi Qin. Parental alcohol consumption and the risk of congenital heart diseases in offspring: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2019; 204748731987453 DOI: 10.1177/2047487319874530



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Last Updated on October 6, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD