Father’s Day 2022: Let’s understand how the health of the father influences the health of his offspring.
Right from the conception of a baby, one-half of its seed (genes) is received from the father. This genetic material received and its quality, therefore, affects the baby. A young healthy father is more likely to pass a better genetic material than an older and unhealthy one, even if he is the same person after many years. The quality of genetic material transferred deteriorates over time, for example, the down syndrome which dominantly relates to the aging of genetic material. Similarly, if a father’s age is above 40, he may carry a higher risk of having a child develop autism.
Smoking is one lifestyle condition that is very well known to affect the quality of sperms in a person and this may in turn contribute to a poor outcome in the children. Conditions like diabetes and hypertension can also have different penetration into their offspring. If a father has had cancer there are higher chances for the next generation to suffer from the disease. Studies have also suggested that fathers with chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and hypertension may also contribute to premature births and their related side effects.
Diseases and conditions which have pure genetic bases like Thalassemia minor and bleeding disorders like Von Willebrand may get transmitted in 50% of the children through their fathers. Another condition hypertrichosis with hairy ears is typically believed to get transmitted from the father to the male children.
In terms of mental health, if a father has depression it is more likely that his child will also suffer from it. A stressful father may have anxious children and such children are more likely to crumble under pressure, such children may also be less self-confident.
Very interestingly, it has been seen that the effect of a father’s obesity on the child’s weight is more as compared to a mother. This is directly correlational to the unhealthy eating habits practiced and displayed by a father in front of a child. On the other hand, fathers leading an active and healthy life inculcate similar traits into their offspring more effectively. Fathers who spend more time with their children, talk to them, or play with them are more accommodative, self-confident, and self-reliant. They are observed to be slightly better at displaying analytical skills. Therefore, fathers definitely have a role to play in their child’s health, and their active participation and healthy lifestyles are desirable for better health and development of their children.
(By Dr. Amit Gupta, Senior Consultant, Department of Paediatrics & Neonatology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad)
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