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Fat Dads May Be Risking Babies' Health

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Fat Dads May Be Risking Babies' Health

New research from the University of Auckland has found overweight fathers are more likely to have undersized babies.

Small for gestational age (SGA) babies are more likely to be stillborn and to have complications in the newborn period and in later life.

The findings, which have been published in the journal Obesity, present results from more than 2,000 Auckland and Adelaide couples, who took part in the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study.

Lead researcher Professor Lesley McCowan, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University, said the finding of a relationship between an obese father and increased risk of SGA babies appeared to be independent of any maternal factors associated with fetal growth restriction.

"This is an important finding as it suggests that a Dad's health can also impact on the unborn baby".

Findings from this study also reinforce previous reports which found men who fathered SGA infants were more likely to have been smaller at birth themselves. This suggests that birth size could, in part, be inherited through the paternal germ line.

It also provides some support for the theory that low birth-weight is linked to later obesity.

"What this study highlights is the need for more research to better understand the linkages between paternal birth-weight later adult obesity and birth of SGA offspring," said Professor McCowan.

"Researchers looking to forecast the risk of delivering SGA infants should also consider the value of incorporating paternal BMI with maternal data in their prediction models."

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