New research suggests that parental alcohol consumption prior to conception is linked with congenital heart diseases (CHDs) in offspring, with experts suggesting parents-to-be should be made aware of the association.
The systematic review and meta-analysis, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, considered data from 55 studies involving 41,747 CHD cases and 297,587 controls.
The study found both maternal (odds ratio [OR] 1.16; 95% CI 1.05-1.27) and paternal (OR 1.44; 95% CI 1.19-1.74) alcohol exposures were significantly associated with the risk of total CHDs in offspring. The association showed a non-linear dose-response relationship.
Binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks per sitting) in fathers-to-be and mothers-to-be was related to a risk increase of 52 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively.
“The underlying mechanisms connecting parental alcohol and congenital heart diseases are uncertain and warrant further research. Although our analysis has limitations - for example the type of alcohol was not recorded - it does indicate that men and women planning a family should give up alcohol,” said study author Dr Jiabi Qin of Xiangya School of Public Health, Central South University, Changsha, China.