Health of the Father

Fathers-to-be determine the sex of the unborn child in the fertilization process. Each sperm contains either an X or Y chromosome; female eggs contain only the X chromosome. The Y chromosome from the father produces a boy. Two X chromosomes, one from the mother and one from the father, produce a girl.

It was once thought that the influence of the male sperm stopped there, but it is now postulated that the quality and health of the father’s sperm may contribute to the health of the newborn also. Taking care of himself during the reproductive years is as important for the father as it is for the mother.

Prolonged exposure to certain substances in the father’s workplace can harm his sperm, and in turn, the fetus. Benzene, X-rays and some art and textile chemicals are known to cause premature birth , low birth weight or stillborn infants.

Regular exposure to other toxins, such as electromagnetic fields and paint, has also proven to pose serious risks to a baby’s health.

Fathers over the age of 50 may have a slightly increased risk of giving birth to a Down syndrome baby, but this is only speculative and has not been conclusively proven.

It is also postulated that active drug use by the father may have adverse effects on the unborn child. Alcohol use can contribute to low birth weight babies and cigarette smoking can increase a child’s chance of developing leukemia. One study found that a child has a 40 percent greater chance of developing leukemia if his father smoked than if he did not.

Active drug abuse by a father may also affect his ability to cope with the stress and financial burden a newborn brings to a relationship. Discuss any concerns with your health-care provider.

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