Expectant fathers can influence baby’s health, too

By Shayna Brouker • Published: August 8th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

During pregnancy, science and conventional wisdom have put mom firmly in charge of her future baby’s well-being, with dad merely playing a supporting role. But a new review of scientific studies reveals that dad plays a larger part in baby’s health than previously thought.

Researchers at Georgetown University reviewed dozens of studies and concluded that factors such as age, smoking and drinking habits as well as body mass index could significantly affect a baby’s health. Such factors can mutate genes that are passed on to the next generation.

Researchers said children born to fathers over the age of 40 had a much higher risk of autism compared with those who had fathers under age 30. Other large studies backed this finding. Swedish researchers found that babies born to fathers age 45 and older were more likely to have a variety of brain and nervous system conditions, such as autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Moms are usually blamed for fetal alcohol syndrome, but dads-to-be who drink too much can also harm their future children — even if the mother does not drink during pregnancy. Studies found that three out of four children born with fetal alcohol syndrome had alcoholic fathers.

It’s important to note that many of the studies did not account for both mom and dad’s factors in influencing baby’s health, and there’s much research yet to be done on the topic. Still, the findings are a good reminder to men trying to become dads to clean up their act so they can have healthy sperm. Drink less, get to the gym, quit smoking and take a daily multivitamin.