Published on September 2nd, 2019 | by Amelia Taylor0
Why Is The Health Of A Father As Important As The Mother Before Conception?
Typically, in every society, the mother’s health is given more emphasis before and during the pregnancy, and rightly so. But a general tendency to overlook the father’s health before conception often harms their offspring too. Several pieces of research have shown that a bad diet combined with an unhealthy lifestyle in men hampers the physical and mental development of the child.
There are several factors in males that have a significant role in how the foetus develops:
Several studies have found that a father’s age at the time of conception does affect the health of the baby. Researchers in this domain had found that children, whose fathers were over 40, faced a higher risk of autism as against those whose fathers were below 30. Children of older fathers were also susceptible to get schizophrenia.
These health risks were attributed to the changes in the father’s genes, but scientists haven’t yet found any direct link to confirm it.
Another study has shown how children of older fathers had higher chances of congenital disabilities like heart problems and Down syndrome. These were prevalent in children whose fathers were over 35 and older and even more severe, with fathers above 50. Nonetheless, an increased risk doesn’t necessarily mean a child with an aged father will have birth defects like Schizophrenia and Autism.
Stress and Anxiety
Mothers during pregnancy are often advised to stay calm and relaxed. It is a matter of fact that the stress factor is important in the cases of fathers too. Stress has always been detrimental to men’s (and women’s) health. Turns out, it hampers, even more, the reproductive health. The stress level in men changes the sperm, affecting the foetus’ brain development. It has also been observed that offspring from paternal stress groups exhibited significant levels of corticosterone, a hormone that is released in response to stress.
Hence it is essential that fathers distress, in order to benefit both themselves and their children.
One research has shown that before conception, fathers who had a diet comprising of junk foods severely hampered the chances of a pregnancy. One reason for this was that obese men’s sperm weren’t of good quality and thus failed to implant into the mother’s uterus. Even in the event of conception, the foetus and placenta were considerably smaller than normal, and the foetus had a delayed growth.
Obese father’s children are also likely to get diagnosed with diabetes, metabolic and certain types of cancers. The primary reason for these health risks is the changing of genes linked to obesity. Interestingly, the same study showed that men, who faced a lack of food during their childhood often have children and even grandchildren- who were protected against heart disease and diabetes.
Another habit which can contribute to unhealthy foetal development is Chronic Alcoholism. Fathers who are heavy drinkers pass detrimental health effects to the children. A study conducted in this field showed that 3 out of 4 children diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders had alcoholic fathers.
Alcohol has the potential to alter the development of the brain of the foetus and many other major parts of the body. Paternal alcohol use can also result in low birth weight, reduction in brain size and a hampered cognitive functioning in babies.
Another remarkable research found that men who had symptoms of liver diseases produced offsprings, having high blood pressure and altered cholesterol levels. It is vital to note that the majority of liver diseases in adults is the consequence of chronic alcoholism.
Hence the adverse effects of heavy drinking are more concrete than what is perceived to be. It is an obligation of both parents to stay clear of alcohol before the conception, and mothers during the pregnancy too.
Tobacco, present in cigarettes is one of the leading causes of sexual dysfunction in men. It is a vice that not only affects fertility but also the health of the offspring. Parental smoking is connected with an increased risk of congenital heart defects in newborn babies. Congenital heart defects are one of the major causes of stillbirths and affect 8 in 1000 babies born around the world.
The risk of leukaemia, brain tumours and lymphoma were up to 80% higher in children below the age of 5, who had fathers who were smokers before conception. It is the case where the mothers were non-smokers. The rate of childhood cancer was the highest in children who had fathers who started smoking before the age of 20.
To Wrap It Up
Speaking about the contribution of a father towards healthy baby development, it’s about more than just the sperm. The diet, as well as the lifestyle of fathers, has a major say in their baby’s overall health. Hence it is advised that fathers-to-be take genuine care of their health before conception so that the health benefits pass on their offsprings too, creating a happy family.