For obvious reasons, a mother’s health and well-being are usually the focus of strategies to support the healthiest deliveries and healthiest babies. However, more and more evidence is showing that the father’s health before conception plays an equally important role in the health of his children.
We have known for a long time that genetic diseases are passed from both the mother and father, but what has more recently been discovered is the enormous impact our diets and lifestyles have on the health of our children – including those of fathers!
Prior to conception, our diet, our stress management, and our exposure to cigarette smoke, medications or drugs can alter sperm and increase the rate of stunted growth, birth defects, and infant mortality, among others (1).
The father’s diet is just as important for the child’s health as the mother’s diet prior to conception and during pregnancy. One study showed that folic acid-deficient diets in fathers are linked to higher risk of birth defects in babies (2).
Another study showed that a father eating a low protein diet increased fat tissue, impaired circulation and altered blood sugar levels in babies (3).
These examples only scratch the surface. A father’s healthy diet will bring about so many more advantages to the health of the child. Read more about The Male Fertility Diet here.
Stress can also result in long-term changes to a father’s sperm. Studies have found that stress in the father is associated with poor coping of stress in children. These findings suggest that a father’s exposure to stress may be linked to psychiatric conditions in children including phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (4).
Smoking and Drugs
Cigarette smoke, alcohol and Marijuana have long been implicated in lower male fertility. What is now coming to light is that paternal exposure to such toxins, as well as others, can negatively impact the development of the baby. Interestingly, this impact is passed along for generations.
In the case of smoking, studies from China (5), Australia (6), and Europe (7) all show an increase in childhood cancers when fathers smoke during the preconception period. Similar associations to negative health outcomes can also be made for paternal alcohol and marijuana use. Read more about Toxins and Male Fertility here.
Dr. Patti at Vive Health helps improve health factors in everyone (including your unborn child!) by addressing these environmental factors. Give us a call to get your sperm in the best possible shape!
(1) Siklenka K, Erkek S, Godmann M, Lambrot R, McGraw S, Lafleur C, Cohen T, Xia J, Suderman M, Hallett M, Trasler J, Peters AH, Kimmins S. Disruption of histone methylation in developing sperm impairs offspring health transgenerationally. Science. 2015 Nov 6;350(6261):aab2006.
(2) Lambrot R, Xu C, Saint-Phar S, Chountalos G, Cohen T, Paquet M, Suderman M, Hallett M, Kimmins S. Low paternal dietary folate alters the mouse sperm epigenome and is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2889.
(3) Watkins AJ, Sinclair KD. Paternal low protein diet affects adult offspring cardiovascular and metabolic function in mice. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 May 15;306(10):H1444-52.
(4) Rodgers AB, Morgan CP, Leu NA, Bale TL. Transgenerational epigenetic programming via sperm microRNA recapitulates effects of paternal stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Nov 3;112(44):13699-704. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1508347112.
(5) Bu-Tian Ji, Xiao-Ou Shu, Martha S. Linet, Wei Zheng, Sholom Wacholder, Yu-Tang Gao, Da-Ming Ying, Fan Jin. Paternal Cigarette Smoking and the Risk of Childhood Cancer Among Offspring of Nonsmoking Mothers. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 89, No. 3, February 5, 1997.
(6) Milne E, Greenop KR, Scott RJ, Bailey HD, Attia J, Dalla-Pozza L, de Klerk NH, Armstrong BK. Parental prenatal smoking and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Jan 1;175(1):43-53.
(7) Rudant J, Menegaux F, Leverger G, Baruchel A, Lambilliotte A, Bertrand Y, Patte C, Pacquement H, Vérité C, Robert A, Michel G, Margueritte G, Gandemer V, Hémon D, Clavel J. Childhood hematopoietic malignancies and parental use of tobacco and alcohol: the ESCALE study (SFCE). Cancer Causes Control. 2008 Dec;19(10):1277-90.