Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Paternal Supplements Help Offspring Health

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An antioxidant and vitamin supplement taken by prospective fathers may prevent millions of the world’s malnourished men from passing on their poor health to their children.

A study published in Scientific Reports (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep27010) reported that the offspring of malnourished male mice were often born with low birth weight, and showed evidence of abnormal gene expression and metabolic markers such as cholesterol and fats. The offspring were prone to increased risk of non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, mirroring the situation for human children born in the developing world.

However, a paternal diet containing additional zinc, folate, iron and other vitamin supplements improved the fertility of malnourished male mice. The birth weight of their offspring was much healthier, and they showed normal gene expression and healthier levels of the same metabolic markers.

“While much of the previous research has considered the impact of overweight or obese fathers on the health of their children, this is one of the first studies of its kind looking at the potential consequences of undernourished fathers,” says lead author Dr Nicole McPherson of the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.