Health of fathers-to-be linked to pregnancy loss, study finds

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  • Poor health of fathers-to-be can be linked to pregnancy loss
  • The father's health during pregnancy is as important as the mother's 
  • Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels in father-to-be are linked to miscarriages

Research published in Human Reproduction analysed almost 1 million US pregnancies from 2009 to 2016. The findings of the study revealed that the more medical conditions men had, the higher the risk of the mother losing the baby.

"It's been known for some time that the health of mothers has an impact on the developing foetus and events at the time of birth. This is the first study to suggest that pregnancies sired by men with increasing numbers of medical conditions are at higher risk of ending in miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth,” Professor Michael Eisenberg, who led the research, said in a press release.

“In the group of men we studied, the risk of losing the pregnancy was 17% in couples where the father had no components of the metabolic syndrome but increased to 21% in couples where the father has one metabolic syndrome component, 23% where he has two, and 27% where he has three or more,” said Eisenberg. 

How do fathers impact pregnancy?

According to the research, the mechanism of how the father's health might affect the risk of pregnancy loss is not known but there is a link in the length of the pregnancy term and the father’s lifestyle choices.

"We hypothesise that the father's health and lifestyle could adversely affect the genetic make-up and expression in the sperm, and that this may alter how well the placenta functions," Eisenberg explained.

"If the placenta isn't working properly, then this could lead to the pregnancy losses that we observed. For instance, we know already that paternal smoking and diet can affect sperm quality." 

The researchers are now aiming to look at integrating paternal health in future studies and hope to find the mechanism that causes fathers’ poor health to be associated with loss of pregnancy.

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