Dad's Diet Plays a Big Role in the Long-Term Health of Baby, Study Says

It’s not just about mom’s diet–the food dad eats when trying to conceive affects baby’s long-term health too.
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profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
August 30, 2018
dad holding smiling baby
Image: Tom Grill

Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive know how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain a balanced diet. But what about dad?

The lack of protein in a man’s diet has a direct impact on the long-term health of baby, a new study says. Essentially, the food dad puts into his body can play a big part on his future child’s weight and metabolism.

The study was conducted on mice who were fed a “poor quality,” low-protein diet. The mice produced sperm with fewer chemical tags on their DNA—which regulate gene expression—than mice fed a normal diet. Researchers also observed that the seminal plasma suppressed maternal uterine inflammatory and the body’s ability to fight bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances, which is crucial for a healthy pregnancy.

As a result, the mice produced offspring who were overweight, with symptoms of type 2 diabetes and reduced expression of genes which regulate the metabolism of fat.

"It is important to recognize that sperm contribute more than just half of the genes that make up a child. During natural conception sperm deposited in the female reproductive tract are bathed in seminal plasma, which can in itself influence pregnancy outcomes,” says Kevin Sinclair, professor of developmental biology in the School of Biosciences. “Our study shows that the composition of seminal plasma can be altered by father’s diet, and that this can also influence offspring wellbeing.”

No one wants to give up foods they love, but having a baby makes it all worth it. Here a few ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle when trying to conceive.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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