Father's diet also important before conception
What a father eats before conception may have as much an impact on a baby as what a mother eats, according to new research. Particularly, the study found that fathers also need to get enough vitamin B9, or folate, into their diets.
It has already been determined that sufficient folate in a mother’s diet can help prevent miscarriages and birth defects, but now researchers are finding that fathers need to pay just as much attention to their lifestyle and diet before conceiving a child. And fathers who eat high-fat, fast food diets or who are obese may not be able to metabolize folate as well.
For the study, researchers worked with mice to compare the offspring of fathers with insufficient folate in their diets and fathers who had adequate levels of folate. They found that paternal folate deficiency was associated with a 30 percent increase in birth defects, compared to the fathers with enough folate in their diet.
Researchers also found that regions of the sperm epigenome are sensitive to life experience, such as diet. This may influence a child's development and possibly affects metabolism and disease in the offspring.
More research needs to be done to determine the link between men and their diet, and how this affects the health of their children.