New research explains 'why fathers really matter'

Published: Monday, Sept. 10 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

What a man eats prior to puberty could have a significant effect on his child's well-being years later, according to new research based on the study of epigenetics. In this article from The New York Times, Judith Shulevitz looks at the impact a man's health has on his future family, concluding that "what a man needs to know is that his life experience leaves biological traces on his children."

Motherhood begins as a tempestuously physical experience but quickly becomes a political one. Once a womanís pregnancy goes public, the storm moves outside. Donít pile on the pounds! Your child will be obese. Donít eat too little, or your baby will be born too small. For heavenís sake, donít drink alcohol. Oh, please: you can sip some wine now and again. And no matter how many contradictory things the experts say, donít panic. Stress hormones wreak havoc on a babyís budding nervous system.

All this advice rains down on expectant mothers for the obvious reason that mothers carry babies and create the environments in which they grow. What if it turned out, though, that expectant fathers molded babies, too, and not just by way of genes?

Biology is making it clearer by the day that a manís health and well-being have a measurable impact on his future childrenís health and happiness.

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