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Drinking While Pregnant Decreases the Eventual Fertility of Male Children

Male children who are exposed to alcohol in the womb by their imbibing pregnant moms are likely to have lower sperm counts 20 years later and may have greater difficulty fathering children.

Danish researchers at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark say that women who drink while pregnant may have sons with lower than normal sperm counts later in life. They looked at sperm count levels in 347 men, all born to women who had been part of study on lifestyle and health while pregnant some 20 years earlier.

The researchers found that men born to women who had consumed 4.5 or more drinks per week while pregnant had sperm counts that were, on average, a third less than men born to women who abstained during pregnancy (25 million sperm per milliliter vs. 40 million sperm per milliliter).

Lead researcher Dr Cecilia Ramlau-Hansen explained the implications of this lowered sperm count, saying, "I can't say the man will be infertile. But we see this lower sperm concentration at higher levels of alcohol exposure, and we know that it takes more time to make your partner pregnant the lower sperm concentration you have."

The full study results have been published in the journal Human Reproduction.

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