Pregnant mothers are always told that what they eat and drink and the care that they take of themselves and their unborn child during will affect his health. Many mothers know the risk of having a low birth weight baby if they smoke during pregnancy, but how many women know that the choices they make in those nine months can affect the baby for the rest of his life and even influence whether or not he gets cancer?
Researchers at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, U.S.A., have conducted a 40-year follow-up study of 20,530 pregnancies occurring between 1959 and 1967. Of the mothers who had an initial early interview about their habits and who later delivered male children, there were 20 cases of testicular cancer recorded for the year 2003. These cases were matched to a control group who had the same birth year and race and it was found that if the mother had drunk alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby boy had an increased risk of developing testicular cancer in adulthood.
They did not find the same association with smoking or drinking coffee.
Expectant mothers produce the male hormone testosterone, which they pass on to their unborn sons. This assists in his healthy reproductive development. Mother’s who drink alcohol, produce less testosterone and this is the reason why scientists think their sons have a higher risk of cancer.
So if you are planning a pregnancy, cut out alcohol at least three months prior to conception and take some pre-natal vitamins to give your baby the best chance for his future. If you think you will have difficulty stopping your alcohol intake, see your doctor. Very often there are special programs to help women quit and stay healthy during pregnancy. Your baby will thank you!
Source: Alcohol. 2009 May;43(3):241-5.
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.