Parent’s Pre-Conception Health Matters For Baby

Many mothers are aware that their own health during pregnancy can affect that of their baby. But experts now say that pre-conception health--of both the mother and father of the baby-- factor into the health of their offspring.

The Lancet, a well-respected medical journal, cites that the health of both parents before conception influences the baby not only while in utero but also in the years to come. Setting up your baby for a full and healthy life begins before conception.

The journal states, "The preconception period can be seen in three different ways: from a biological standpoint as the days and weeks before embryo development; from the individual perspective as the time of wanting to conceive; and through a population lens as any time a women is of childbearing age."

There are three papers that were published on Monday on The Lancet that detail how pre-conception health can affect a baby's long term health. Each paper addresses a different facet of subject, such as time: how long before conception must one be healthy.

Some factors in a person's life can build up over years, causing common conditions such as obesity or diabetes.

Dr. Haywood Brown from Duke University School of Medicine was not involved directly with the papers, but notes that obesity for example, can affect a man's sperm count. For women, "obesity is a risk factor for congenital birth defects. It's associated with congenital heart defects.... Obesity also increases risk for things like developing preeclampsia and developing diabetes, and so in that sense, they affect the health of the baby," he stated.

A new study from Cornell  conducted on animals suggests that paternal genes are extremely active in utero. If this is also the case with humans, it implies that the health of the baby is just as dependent on the genes from from the father, and as early as conception.

This notion of male physical well-being in regards to a healthy pregnancy is not something that is addressed regularly by the medical community or by society.  Most pregnancy awareness facts are centered around the mother-- what her role will be, and how she foster a healthy baby.

Even The American Pregnancy Association concurs with this assessment stating, "... there are several habits men need to be forming during these critical months of preparation too. Issues of fertility do not rest solely on the female."

Sources: CNN, The Lancet, Cornell, American Pregnancy Association

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