AsianScientist (Jun. 15, 2016) – Research published in Scientific Reports has shown it may be possible to prevent millions of the world’s malnourished fathers from passing on poor health to their children—if they’re given antioxidant and vitamin supplements before conceiving.
In laboratory studies using under-nourished male mice, lead author Dr. Nicole McPherson from the University of Adelaide and colleagues found that the offspring of these mice were often born with low birth weight. These offspring also showed evidence of abnormal gene expression and metabolic markers such as cholesterol and fats. These offspring were prone to health conditions including increased risk of non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes—mirroring the situation for human children born in the developing world.
After being fed on a diet containing additional zinc, folate, iron and other vitamin supplements, under-nourished male mice had improved fertility and conceived offspring with much healthier levels of weight at birth. These offspring showed normal gene expression and healthier levels of the same metabolic markers.
“Under-nutrition is a common affliction, affecting hundreds of millions of adults and children the world over. Because of this, some developing countries provide dietary supplements to both pregnant women and children in the hopes of improving long-term health outcomes,” said McPherson.
“However, we now know that the parents’ health at the moment of conception is incredibly important. What we’re seeing from our research is that some form of dietary supplementation may also benefit fathers-to-be.”
The article can be found at: McPherson et al. (2016) Paternal Under-nutrition Programs Metabolic Syndrome in Offspring.
Source: University of Adelaide; Photo: Shutterstock.
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