AARHUS, DENMARK. It is known that alcohol consumption by pregnant women may result in stillbirth, the delivery of a premature baby, or a baby suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. Now Danish researchers report that alcohol consumption in the week prior to conception markedly increases the risk of spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Their study included 430 couples who were attempting to have a baby for the first time. The couples were followed for a minimum of 6 months or until a pregnancy occurred. During follow-up 186 pregnancies were detected, 131 resulted in the birth of a child, while 55 resulted in spontaneous abortion (detected chemically or clinically). Both women and their male partners reported their alcohol intake during the likely cycle of conception (14-21 days from last menstrual bleeding).
A thorough analysis of data collected showed that a high caffeine intake by women or their partners doubles
the risk of experiencing a spontaneous abortion. The researchers also observed that female alcohol intake
was associated with a 2-3 times increase in the risk of spontaneous abortion with 10 drinks or more per
week being particularly detrimental. Even more startling was the finding that alcohol consumption by the
male partners during the cycle of conception was associated with a 2-5 times increase in the risk of abortion.
The researchers speculate that the alcohol content of seminal fluid (similar to the concentration in blood)
may interfere with the proper implantation of the fetus.