Years of extensive research have shown that a mother’s lifestyle, health and diet can seriously influence her baby’s development in the womb. More recently, new research is indicating that the father’s nutrition and dietary habits may also play a role before conception. A study by a team of Canadian reproduction experts argues that since the male contributes half of all inheritable traits to a developing fetus, there is great potential for fathers to have “an enormous impact” on the health of their children.
The researchers paid close attention to the father’s folate (otherwise known as vitamin B9) intake in their study because past studies have shown how valuable folate is to a mother during pregnancy in order to prevent birth defects or miscarriages. For their subjects, the team worked with mice, observing that fathers with a diet deficient in folate produced offspring with an increased risk of birth defects.
With so much emphasis placed on the mother’s health and pregnancy all these years, it is great to see the research expanding into the father’s role as well. Hopefully, the results will lead to optimal health in humans.