VITAMIN B9 FOLATE, Men, and Birth Defects

Father's diet impacts health of baby..... So, dads (and those planning to be) start eating those veggies!

When it comes to risks a baby might be faced with, the main focus is on the mother. But a Canadian study now suggests that the father's diet before conception is equally important for the baby's health. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

The team from McGill University in Montreal focused its research on vitamin B9 (folate). It is well known that women need an adequate amount of folate to prevent birth defects in their offspring. Trials with mice now proved that birth defects occurred significantly more often also if fathers had insufficient levels of folate.

"We were very surprised to see that there was an almost 30 percent increase in birth defects in the offspring sired by fathers whose levels of folates were insufficient", said study author Romain Lambrot. The defects included severe skeletal abnormalities of the face and the spine.

As the sperm develops, part of the epigenome was erased but part of it was also passed on, the researchers said. Therefore, men who are planning to have a child should pay particular attention to their diet and lifestyle.