Lifestyle choice before conception can affect the future child
(Mirror Daily, United States) – A new study has uncovered that sperm may be carrying the obesity gene, and that fathers might have a bigger impact on their future children’s metabolism. A few lifestyle changes could suddenly become useful not just on the mother’s part. Ensuring the good health of a child is important, and the father may have a say long before conception.
British researchers conducted a relatively small study on 29 adult males. They compared the sperm markers between 13 lean men, 10 obese men, and 6 formerly obese men who underwent gastric bypass surgery. The scientists studied the variations in levels of DNA methylation in over 9,000 genes.
These epigenetic markers can effectively turn genes on and off by tagging them with certain chemicals. This means that lifestyle choices of the future parent, such as smoking, drinking, or exercising, can affect the way their genes work, according to the researchers. Furthermore, these can also be passed onto their child.
While it was commonly found for the mother to be a heavily influencing factor in her child’s health, researchers found that the father has some bigger implications as well. They found variations in the gene markers within the sperm of the three groups of men. According to lead author of the study, Dr. Romain Barrès from the University of Copenhagen, it brought multiple questions that needed answer. Such as, what happens if these differences in genes will be transmitted to the children.
By being obese, lean, or losing the weight through surgery, it causes changes in the men’s sperm. This could also transmit later on and affect their children, such as determining the future child’s metabolic behavior and tendency of overeating. Their findings proved that there were indeed alternations in the study participants, and it rats and mice. Furthermore, these differences were found in genes that were associated with appetite control, and brain development.
The researchers admitted that their study was small, and that it’s still unknown how it would affect the population as a whole. However, it poses as an interesting premise for future lifestyle changes before conception. Dr. Barrès stated that this could mean men will have a role in getting healthier before conception as well. This might include diet, or changes in vices such as smoking or drinking.
According to Christopher Gregg, who is an expert in human genetics but not involved in the study, this contributes to the growing number of evidence that exposure to toxins or lifestyle can impact men’s sperm and, in turn, their future offspring.
Image source: venturesafrica.com