It Takes Two to Have a Healthy Pregnancy
In Greek mythology, Pandora, the first human woman, was created as punishment to man. When given a box with strict instructions not to open it, Pandora could not resist her curiosity, ultimately unleashing all manner of sin throughout the world.
In Genesis, Eve lived with Adam in the garden of Eden. Like Pandora, she could not resist the apple, despite God’s warning to stay away from it. The result: Adam and Eve were kicked out of paradise.
In both these origin stories, women are blamed for being disobedient, deceitful, and weak. There is little consideration of the role men played in these stories, and how they may have contributed to the events that unfolded.
Thousands of years later, the same pattern persists. If something goes wrong, it must be because of something the woman did – or didn’t do.
This bias has infiltrated all manner of things, even reproductive health. When a couple conceives, and a woman becomes pregnant, all of the attention is focused on her health. Of course, a mother’s wellbeing during pregnancy has a significant impact on the fetus. But something that has been overlooked is the impact that the health of the father also has on the health of the fetus.
In an article titled, “Preconception Paternal Health Can Affect Neonatal Health,” published in MedPage Today, Kate Kneisel looks at research that suggests that there is a connection between paternal health and “adverse fetal outcomes” or pregnancy loss.
Paternal Factors that Can Impact Pregnancy Outcomes and Neonatal Health
- Paternal Age
Advanced age of the father “has been found to increase risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and low Apgar scores.” Furthermore, the risk of a pregnancy ending in a “fetal loss” is twice as great for men over 50.
While the age of the father is important, “poor paternal health transcends the age effect.”
- Paternal Medical Conditions
Simply put, if a father suffers from a medical condition in the year prior to conception, it increases the risk of adverse results. These medical conditions include:
- High blood pressure
- Pulmonary disease
- Heart disease
The more factors of these medical conditions a father has, the higher the risk of pregnancy loss.
- Paternal Lifestyle Choices
While there are clear guidelines for women to adhere to when they are trying to conceive and once they are pregnant, the same has not been true for men. Nevertheless, fathers transmit “environmental information” to their offspring through their sperm. “Paternal exposures to smoking and alcohol consumption prior to conception may also potentially increase the risk of both restricted growth and spontaneous miscarriage.” Additionally, deficiencies in the father’s nutrition and diet can impact the health of the fetus.
Even though health providers tend to focus primarily on the mother, fathers can be “a potential source of pregnancy loss and pregnancy morbidity,” as Brian Nguyen, MD, of the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine states. Given that paternal health factors into fetal development, when given the opportunity, care providers should provide guidance for men as well as women prior to conception.
Our goal is always a healthy pregnancy. If we can support you or a loved one in any way, please call our experienced Cleveland malpractice lawyers to discuss your options for legal recourse and for obtaining the compensation you deserve should you not have a healthy pregnancy or delivery. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-287-0900 or contact us online today.