Beyond genes: How fathers play a biological role in the health of future generations

by Chloe Wilkinson, Dr Felicia Low and Sir Peter Gluckman

A significant proportion of New Zealand men may be impacting the health of their future children through poor health and lifestyle behaviours prior to conception.

Koi Tū’s latest evidence brief sheds light on how a father’s physical and mental health, age, and alcohol and drug use can affect the health of future generations. Most research on the effect of environmental conditions on young children’s wellbeing has focused on pregnant women, but human and animal studies are increasingly suggesting that biological fathers may pass on disease risks via sperm. The brief suggests several ways to promote awareness of the role both men and women play across generations in order to help normalise shared responsibility for children’s health.

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