In the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” Rick Moranis played the part of a dad who did his kids more harm than good. But in real life, when his wife died of breast cancer in 1997, he turned his back on the silver screen for 18 years to be an at-home father. Moranis clearly knew how important a dad is to his kids’ well-being.
But, according to researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, while it seems sensible that both parents contribute to the health of their offspring, science is just beginning to demonstrate a clear association between Dad’s lifestyle, age and health, and fetal development. Their report in the American Journal of Stem Cells found there are several ways a father’s health and behavior influences his offspring:
--If Dad is obese, his children have an increased risk of enlarged fat cells, changes in metabolic regulation, diabetes, obesity and brain cancer.
--Dad’s alcohol use can cause decreased newborn birth weight, marked reduction in brain size and impaired cognitive function. Smoking can damage sperm’s DNA.
--Dad’s revved-up stress response increases the chance a child will have behavior problems.
--Older dads have a greater risk of having children who are schizophrenic, autistic or have birth defects.
So fellas, if you and your partner are thinking about becoming pregnant, you both need to attain a healthy weight, eat nutritious foods, take a prenatal vitamin (for three months prior to conception for Dad), skip alcohol and get plenty of physical activity to ease stress.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.