How Fathers’ Pre-conception Diet Can Affect Offspring’s Health

A father’s diet prior to his offspring’s conception can play a great role in offspring’s long term health, study says.

Usually, in older studies and research, a mother’s diet can get all the attention as she is the one directly responsible for the carrying of the baby for nine months in her womb. But in Canada’s McGill’s University’s research, the vitamin B9 concentration in a father’s diet can influence the health and development of his offspring.

What is Vitamin B9?

Vitamin B9, also known as folate can be found in green leafy vegetables, cereals, meats and fruits. Folate is well known for its ability to prevent miscarriages among women as well as in preventing the occurrence of birth defects. All the big reason why women are advised to load their supplements and diets with folate (folic acid) when they are with babies.

The said study’s authors also suggested that the lack of folate in kids’ health may increase risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, autism, schizophrenia and even cancer. But this remains still to be further proven and is still speculative.

You Are What Your Father Eats

This study somewhat has pushed more males who wish to be fathers to pay attention to their diets. To cut out on junk foods and eat more greens instead is the study’s one major upshot.

The study has used mice in the research.  They had compared offspring of mice that has insufficient folate in their diets to those who have sufficient ones. Their findings include;

    1. Paternal folate deficiency is associated in increased birth defects of offspring by 30%.
    2. Defects included severe skeletal abnormalities as well as cranio-facial and spinal deformities.
    3. Due to the sperm epigenome that senses and maps out life experiences and diet, it can influence metabolism and acquiring of diseases in long term for offspring.
    4. Chemical Modifications to DNA were inherited.
    5. Differences and shifts related to genes can affect the central nervous system, kidneys, and other chronic diseases.

Though the study has been critiqued due to its limitations, it has been well received in the medical community. The use of mice has also been pointed out as a possible limitation since it has been not done on humans. But the result has been greatly upheld by its researchers.

Dr. Sarah Kimmins, the study’s lead researcher, said that the research suggests that father’s may need to think about what they put in their mouth.

How a Change of Your Diet Can Play a role in Raising Healthy Kids

The study has needed to verify still their findings with humans but researchers hope that this may help in inspiring men to pay attention to their diets since it can affect their kids later. It’s an immediate way for intervention and prevention.

A potential solution to this is a switch of diet years and months before conception. Options include:

    • Change of diet
    • Cutting on smoking habits
    • Moderating alcohol
    • Good supplement intake

Good Sources of Folic Acid

Not only cutting back on junk foods will do, but a total lifestyle change can make sure that your kids won’t be suffering from long term health ailments later. Diets that include spinach, asparagus, peas, liver, brown rice and Brussels sprouts can be a major folic acid sources.

Although healthy choices in foods can be hindered by other factors such as race, ethnicity, opportunity and income, healthy choices and alternatives can be available and can be within the power of fathers-would-be to alter.

Mother also should be aware of these. And for mom to be’s, the big three for babies and expecting mothers includes not only folic acid but calcium and DHA omega 3 as well. They can contribute to the overall health of kids once they are conceived and can even extend into long term benefits.

Image Credit: Ewen Roberts from Flickr.