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From Father to Child: Dads Might Have More Effect on Epigenetics Than Previously Thought

According to new epigenetics research, there is evidence to support the claim that a father may have more influence on his child’s pre-natal health than previously thought. The study, “Influence of Paternal Preconception Exposures on Their Offspring: Through Epigenetics to Phenotype,” showed one intuitive result and one surprising one – first, it showed that both parents contribute in some way to the health of their offspring, a common-sense result. However, it also showed that the lifestyle of the father, his age, and other environmental factors can be expressed epigenetically in the child’s genome.

The study cited the case of a newborn who was diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), even though the mother never consumed alcohol during the pregnancy. According to the researcher who performed the study, “Up to 75% of children with FASD have biological fathers who are alcoholics, suggesting that preconceptual paternal alcohol consumption negatively impacts their offspring."

Some other evidence cited in the study includes:
  • A father of advanced age is more likely to have offspring with schizophrenia, autism, and birth defects
  • A father’s healthy diet as an adolescent has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular death in his children and grandchildren
  • Fathers who are obese are linked to diabetic and obese offspring
  • Even environmental factors may have a role: they showed that psychosocial stress in a father is linked to defective behavioral traits in his offspring

The researcher of the study stressed that paternal epigenetics is an emerging field, and there is a lot of research yet to be undertaken. “To really understand the epigenetic influences of a child,” she said, “we need to study the interplay between maternal and paternal effects, as opposed to considering each in isolation.”

Enzo Life Sciences offers comprehensive tools to study Epigenetic modifications – from DNA Methylation, Acetylation, Phosphorylation, and Ubiquitination to Active Enzymes and Drug Discovery Assays to aid in your research. See more here:

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