A Father's Lifestyle Habits Could Cause Birth Defects in His Children

   |  Updated: May 16, 2016 15:35 IST

A Father's Lifestyle Habits Could Cause Birth Defects in His Children
New fathers please take note! Your age, use of alcohol and other lifestyle factors can cause birth defects in your child as well as for the future generations, warns a new research at Georgetown University in the US.

The nutritional, hormonal and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently has been previously known to alter the organ structure, cellular response and gene expression in her babies. The team reviewed past research that focused on how a man's lifestyle could cause epigenetic changes in his sperm's DNA that could eventually affect his kid's genome.

"Our study shows that the fathers' lifestyle, and his age, can be reflected in molecules that control the gene function," said Joanna Kitlinska, an associate professor. "In this way, a father can affect not only his immediate offspring, but future generations as well," Kitlinska added in the paper published in the American Journal of Stem Cells.

The findings showed that, if the father is alcoholic, a newborn can be diagnosed with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), even though the mother has never consumed alcohol. Alcohol use in fathers was also linked to decreased birth weight, marked reduction in overall brain size, and impaired cognitive function.

In addition, the advanced age of a father can elevate the rates of schizophrenia, autism in his children, the researchers said.

Also, the diet pattern of a man during his pre-adolescence can reduce or increase the risk of cardiovascular death in his children and grandchildren. Paternal obesity has been linked to enlarged fat cells, changes in metabolic regulation, diabetes, obesity and development of brain cancer.

Further, psychosocial stress on the father can cause defective behavioural traits in his kids.

"This new field of inherited paternal epigenetics needs to be organised into clinically applicable recommendations and lifestyle alternations," Kitlinska said adding, "to really understand the epigenetic influences of a child, we need to study the interplay between maternal and paternal effects, as opposed to considering each in isolation.

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