When dads had high levels of homocysteine—a sign of chronic inflammation—their newborns were more likely to have neural tube defects (NTD). In this study, researchers compared 35 sets of newborns with NTD and their parents to 24 sets of healthy newborns and their parents. Compared to fathers of healthy babies, fathers of babies with NTD had significantly lower blood levels of folate and vitamin B12, and higher levels of homocysteine. The NTD babies also had higher homocysteine than healthy babies and their moms had lower folate than moms of healthy kids.
In a sperm study, researchers analyzed samples from 89 healthy, non-smoking men aged 22 to 80. After adjusting for factors such as age and lifestyle, scientists found men who consumed more folate—ranging from 722 mcg per day to 1,150 mcg per day—were more likely to have normal sperm than were men who consumed lower levels. Men who consumed the most folate were about 25 percent more likely to have normal sperm than men who consumed low or moderate levels of folate. Doctors noted that, “This is the first [study] to suggest that paternal diet may play a role after conception in the development of healthy offspring.”
In an omega-3 study, 523 women with normal pregnancies began taking 2,700 mg of omega-3 fish oil caps per day, an olive oil placebo or no oil supplement at 30 weeks pregnant until delivery. After 16 years of follow up, children of women who had taken omega-3 were 63 percent less likely to have asthma and 87 percent less likely to have allergic asthma, compared to the olive oil placebo group.
Reference: Pediatric Surgery International; 2008, Vol. 24, No. 7, 803-8.