Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Community News Network

December 3, 2013

Study says women shouldn't be the only ones responsible for making healthy babies

"Men and women contribute equally to reproduction." That's a statement in a new paper in the journal Gender and Society about how men's role in making babies has been culturally diminished. It is a painfully obvious sentence, and yet it bears repeating because we're so fixated on women's prenatal and preconception behavior and health. For example, the most emailed article on The New York Times website as I type is about how women's eating habits affect their babies in the womb. But we barely ever mention how male behavior can affect sperm quality.

The paper, called "More and Less Than Equal: How Men Factor in the Reproductive Equation," notes that since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people of both genders who are looking to have a baby monitor their health more closely - but in practice, this recommendation is generally directed toward women, who are now advised to treat their pregnancies as 12 months long. This means curtailing alcohol consumption and taking prenatal vitamins before they've even conceived.

Yet recent research has shown that men's preconception behavior also matters. According to the CDC, tobacco and heavy drinking can damage sperm DNA, and we're just starting to understand how older men's sperm may affect their offspring adversely. The only venue where male preconception health gets much attention, the authors point out, is at the sperm bank, where men's sperm is scrutinized in a way it's not elsewhere.

The study's authors, Yale's Rene Almeling and Princeton's Miranda Waggoner, argue that the hyperfocus on women's bodies before and during reproduction has led to a dearth of research about men's contributions to conception. So there should be more research about men's preconception behaviors, but on a more individual level, doctors should also be asking their male patients if they are planning on having children, just the way that women are asked at their yearly gynecological visits. On the policy level, Almeling and Waggoner suggest that the Affordable Care Act might cover men's preconception visits, as all women's preconception visits are now covered without copay.

There's a lot we don't know about the epigenetics of both men and women, and I'm certainly not suggesting that we burden men with the obsessive focus on behavior modification that we've unfortunately put on pregnant women. (Are you really going to have that second cup of coffee and risk destroying your baby, you evil harpy?) But I'm all for men bearing at least a little bit of responsibility when it comes to their baby-making, since the current model puts everything on women. I think most men could handle it, and they might even welcome the advice. After all, dads want healthy babies, too.

 

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.