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Medical News & Perspectives
May 23/30, 2017

The Paternal Epigenome Makes Its Mark

JAMA. 2017;317(20):2049-2051. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.1566

For decades, prenatal advice has mainly focused on mothers. Leading up to and during pregnancy, women are told to take folic acid supplements, stop drinking and smoking, avoid high-mercury fish, and maintain healthful weight gain, among other wisdom. That advice is prescribed by physicians and public health experts to promote healthy pregnancies, normal fetal development, and long-term offspring health. A father’s behavior can also influence the health of a pregnancy, by exposing his partner to secondhand smoke or domestic violence, for example. But there’s a growing belief among scientists that a man’s behaviors and environmental exposures may also shape his descendants’ development and future health before sperm meets egg.

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