Low Folic Acid Intake in Dads Influence the Baby’s Health

Until recently was considered that the future mother’s lifestyle choices and diet are the only things able to influence the future health of the baby. It seems that recent studies had made an important discovery which demonstrated that the diet and lifestyle of the father has also a major impact in preventing birth defects.


Vitamin B9 or folic acid, otherwise known as folate is a mandatory element in the diet of the future mothers. It is normally found in dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts, fruits, poultry, meat , dairy and eggs .

The FDA requested since 1998 to all the food producing manufacturers to provide grain products enriched with folic acid especially because the US population is a high consumer of these foods.

Recent Discoveries

The study conducted by a team of researchers from  McGill University in Canada led by Sarah Kimmins, evaluated the importance of folic acid in the future dad’s diet before the baby conceived.

Studies conducted on mice resulted that the offspring whose dads had a low folate diet presented birth defects like spinal and neuro-facial  deformities, while the offspring of males who had a diet rich in folic acid were perfectly healthy. In both cases the mothers of the offspring were placed on the same type of diet with the same amount of folic acid.

Why the Study?

According to the scientists there are special epigenome areas in the sperm that carry the “ memory” of the lifestyle choices. This particular areas can transfer the genetic information to the baby’s genetic map influencing his or her embryonic development.

Mothers and Fathers

A pregnant woman is advised to take 600mcg of folate /day but according to the recent findings in case the father’s diet is low in folate the birth defects might still appear.

If the father has a diet rich in fat or he is obese , his body cannot metabolize the folic acid correctly so even if he takes supplements these are not as effective as it would be for him to have a healthy lifestyle and a carefully monitored weight.

Further Research

The scientists concluded that further testing will be conducted in fertility clinics in order to accurately conclude the exact impact of the fathers’s diet on the development of the baby.

However strange this made sound, the fact remains that lifestyle choices of the parents before conceiving a baby, are extremely important.


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