It was believed only an expectant mother's alcohol consumption was linked to birth defects in the offspring. However, a new research has revealed the father's binge drinking habits may also cause brain and skull deformities in a child.

Earlier, investigations concerning Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) focused only on the mother's alcohol consumption. However, a research team at Texas A&M University challenged the existing dogma on the grounds that fathers usually indulge more--sometimes ever binge drink-- which may also have some bearing on the fetus's developmental issues, if any, according to Neuroscience News.

Dr. Michael Golding, an associate professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, and his team conducted the research on a mouse model and the findings signaled in favor of what they were speculating.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, indicated male alcohol consumption before conception caused FAS brain and facial growth defects.

"We found that male exposures actually drive certain craniofacial differences much stronger than maternal exposures do, so this programming effect that's coming through sperm has a profound effect on the organization of the face and the growth and proportion of different facial features," Golding said, Neuroscience News reported. "When it was the dad drinking, we saw a profound shift in the organization of the face."

What is FAS?

FAS and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are exclusively caused by exposure to alcohol, and can lead to a slew of birth defects such as prenatal and/or postnatal growth retardation, facial dysmorphology, central nervous system dysfunction, and neurobehavioral disabilities, among others, according to American Family Physician.

FAS isn't easily detectable. Doctors look for signs like below-average weight or height or both, small head size due to central nervous system issues, problems with attention and hyperactivity, or poor coordination, to definitely point to the syndrome.

"When doctors suspect a child has FAS, they sit down with the mother to confirm the diagnosis by discussing her drinking habits during pregnancy," Golding said. "It's not uncommon for the mother to deny consuming alcohol while pregnant. When they do, there's this stigma or this notion that women are lying about their alcohol use."

But, the latest research pointed toward a potential missing link in the standard diagnostic criterion for FAS and emphasized taking male alcohol consumption into consideration.

"Our research proves there's a plausible alternative explanation--the father's contribution, which has never been examined before," he said. "In this study, we call into question the dismissal of the mother's denial and really examine the capacity of male alcohol use to induce FAS growth defects."

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