About Fathers

Perspectives on fathers and their children.

Can a Father's Diet Affect His Newborn's Health?

While we've long known that pregnant women must have adequate folic acid in their diets to reduce the risk of birth defects. A new study suggests the same might be true of fathers: Low folic acid (vitamin B9) in fathers has also been associated with an increased risk of birth defects—and a tentative link to cancer, diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia. Read More

So important!

Hi Paul,

This is so important. Not just folate deficiencies but all other aspects of health and nutrition can affect the epigenetics around sperm and eggs.

That means, because most people are waiting longer to have children, there is an added important to eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding alcohol, sugar, and the omnipresent household chemicals.

In the case of folic acid, it's also worth noting that one of the researchers responsible for the idea of adding folate to bread and other commercial food products came to regret this wholesale supplementation. In a private conversation years ago, he voiced his concerns to me that too much folate could be also contributing to neural-tube defects.

There are tests to ascertain one's levels of folate. And, sometimes it's not a question of more folate but of identifying if the individual has genetic mutations (MRHFR) that inhibit uptake of standard folic acid. In such cases where one or two mutations are present, a methylated form of folate is recommended.

Thanks for covering this issue. I look forward to your book!


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Journalist Paul Raeburn is the author of Do Fathers Matter? to be published by Scientific America/FSG in June, 2014. He is also the author of the Fathers and Families blog.


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