It’s not new information that what a pregnant woman eats can affect the growth and development of her baby. A recent study is now proving that what a baby’s father eats before conception can also play a role in prenatal growth and development. A study performed by McGill researchers has found that a “father’s diet before conception may play an equally important role in the health of their offspring.”
This study focused on the father’s consumption of Vitamin B9, otherwise known as folate. Folate is well known for its importance during pregnancy and fetal development. Sarah Kimmins, one of the researchers on this study stated, “Despite the fact that folic acid is now added to a variety of foods, fathers who are eating high-fat, fast food diets or who are obese may not be able to use or metabolize folate in the same way as those with adequate levels of the vitamin… And we now know that this information will be passed on from the father to the embryo with consequences that may be quite serious.”
This study looked specifically at the affects of folate levels in the diets of male mice and their offspring. The results of the study found that those mice with diets lacking in folate fathered children with a higher chance of birth defects, including “some pretty severe skeletal abnormalities that included both cranio-facial and spinal deformities.” The babies sired by folate deficient fathers were 30% more likely to suffer from some form of birth defect.
The results of this study suggest that the same way a woman starts taking a prenatal vitamin when attempting to get pregnant, a potential father should make lifestyle changes as well when attempting to conceive a child. Sarah Kimmins concludes, “Our research suggests that fathers need to think about what they put in their mouths, what they smoke and what they drink and remember they are caretakers of generations to come.”