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Fathers’ health choices could impact unborn children

HealthBy Sunday World
Fathers’ health choices could impact unborn children

There are a lot of things we blame our fathers for – bad eyesight, hair thinning or even a love of dodgy ‘80s pop music. Now there could be another thing to add to the list, following the claim that what dads eat affects their sperm to such a degree it impacts their children.

A Danish study has found that what men eat has a drastic effect on the DNA in their sperm, including the genes linked to appetite control and how the brain develops. This is being hailed as part of the reason why children with obese fathers may have weight issues themselves, and it could provide a link between very overweight men and children with autism.

The research, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, was conducted on a small group of men, with the team at the University of Copenhagen looking at sperm from 13 slim men and 10 who were obese. Small chemical markers in the DNA were focused on, because it’s already known that these impact health. It was found that 9,000 genes did have alterations, but they weren’t permanent. Several of the obese men underwent weight-loss surgery, and just a week after the operations the markers started to morph into something which was more like that of the thin guys.

“Our research could lead to changing behaviour, particularly pre-conception behaviour of the father,” researcher Dr. Romain Barrès said.

“It’s common knowledge that when a woman is pregnant she should take care of herself – not drink alcohol, stay away from pollutants etc. But if the implication of our study holds true, then recommendations could be directed towards men too.”

A fuller study will be needed before the results can be fully understood, but it seems it would be wise for men who are looking to have children to be as healthy as possible.

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