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Study: Father’s Diet May Affect Sperm Quality, Kids’ Long‑Term Health

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Sep 11, 2018

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A father’s diet can affect the quality of his sperm and even the fluid it travels in — which in turn can influence the health of his offspring, putting them more at risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and difficulty ‘burning’ fat, a new study has found. Specifically, a lack of protein seems to be the problem.

Previous research has found that poor sperm quality might be a marker of a man’s own poor metabolic health, so it’s a logical, if yet-to-be-fully-proven, leap that sperm quality could influence children’s metabolic health. (After all, sperm health influences pregnancy and children’s health in other ways.)

Researchers say the finding may take the burden of prenatal health off women, and lead to actionable advice for fathers-to-be when it comes to their future children’s health.

“There is a lot of information available to women who want to become pregnant about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and good dietary choices both for their own health and that of their child. Interestingly, little, if any, advice is available for the father,” says Adam Watkins, PhD, an assistant professor in reproductive biology at the University of Nottingham.

It will take some time for that advice to coalesce. The study was carried out on mice, so it’s findings are not directly transferable to humans. Still, the fact that not only did a low-protein diet compromise sperm quality, but it also seemed to change seminal fluid in a way that works against a pregnancy ‘taking,’ is information worth investigating further, which is what the researchers are calling for.

Until more insight is forthcoming, says Kevin Sinclair, PhD, one of the study’s collaborators and a professor of developmental biology at the University, the findings are an important reminder that “sperm contribute more than just half of the genes that make up a child.”

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Written By Angelina Shah

Angelina Shah is a staff writer with The Swaddle. In her previous life she was a copywriter in advertising. She has a penchant for reading, singing, travelling and being obsessed with superheroes.

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