Father’s diet may affect the health of offspring

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How often have you heard that mother’s diet during breastfeeding affects children’s health? A lot of times for sure, but did you know a father’s diet can affect the long-term health of his offspring too? Turns out, lack of protein in a father’s diet affects sperm quality which can have a direct impact on the long-term health of their offspring.The study was carried out at the University of Nottingham and involved feeding male mice a poor quality diet which resulted in their offspring becoming overweight, with symptoms of type 2 diabetes and reduced expression of genes which regulate the metabolism of fat.Researchers published a report showing that both sperm and the fluid they are carried in (seminal plasma) from male mice fed a low protein diet could affect the long-term metabolic health of their offspring.There has been much research showing that sperm from men who are overweight, smoke, drink excessively or who have type 2 diabetes are often of poorer quality than sperm from healthy, fertile men. However, little is known about the impact of such lifestyle factors on the long-term health of a father’s offspring.
This new study bridges this gap in our understanding by using a mouse model to explore the long-term growth and metabolic health of offspring from males who are fed a poor quality diet.”It is well understood that what a mother eats during pregnancy can affect the development and health of her child. As such, there is a lot of information available to women who want to become pregnant about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and good dietary choices both for their own health and that of their child,” said study author Dr Adam Watkins.”Our research using mice shows that at the time of conception, the diet and well-being of the father influences the long-term growth and metabolic health of his offspring. Our study not only identifies what impact a poor paternal diet has on the health of his offspring, but also starts to uncover how these effects are established,” added Dr Watkins.
The study, carried out on mice, found that males fed a low-protein diet produced sperm with fewer chemical tags on their DNA that regulate gene expression than mice fed a normal diet. Researchers also observed that the seminal plasma suppressed maternal uterine inflammatory and immunological responses, essential for a healthy pregnancy.The researchers believe that the health of a father’s offspring is affected both by the quality of a father’s genetic information passed on within the sperm at conception and by the seminal plasma-primed maternal uterine environment.

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