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Men’s health affects baby’s health too

This article is Sponsored by Arizona Department of Health

Nine Steps Future Dads Should Take

A new study found that fathers’ lifestyle choices can have a major impact on the well-being of their future child.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center studied male mice to determine that dads who exercise before conception give their children’s metabolic health a boost, lowering fat mass and body weight and increasing insulin sensitivity, which can help control blood sugar levels.

This study proves that dads need to take care of their health, just like moms, before conception, according to Wayne Tormala, Bureau Chief of Tobacco and Chronic Disease at the Arizona Department of Health Services. He advises couples considering pregnancy to discuss health factors and dangerous behaviors, including STDs and HIV, use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, exposure to toxic substances and family health history.

“Future parents need to be aware that certain preventable health factors and behaviors can have tragic consequences, such as infertility, low birth weight, birth defects and even infant death,” Tormala said.

Here are key issues future fathers should consider:

  1. Make a plan. Discuss future family plans with your partner, including how old you want to be when you become a father and how many children you want. Organize your life before fatherhood so you’re healthy with a steady income and relationship.
  2. Protect yourself from disease. If you haven’t always worn a condom, get checked and treated for STDs. Check with your doctor about any necessary vaccines to protect you from preventable diseases.
  3. Avoid drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Taking illicit drugs and drinking too much alcohol is harmful to your health and can cause infertility. A pregnant woman who is exposed to secondhand smoke is more likely to give birth to a baby with low birthweight. For free help quitting smoking or other tobacco products, call the ASHLine at 1-800-55-66-222 or visit ashline.org.
  4. Ensure work and home wellness. Make sure your home and workplace are safe from such harmful chemicals as metals, fertilizer, pesticides, lead and mercury, which can make it harder for a couple to get pregnant. Check with your employer about how to stay safe. Avoid skin contact with chemicals and wash hands before eating or drinking. If you’re exposed to chemicals at work, change out of contaminated clothing before you go home.
  5. Preserve your fertility. A man’s sperm can be changed by his overall health, nutrition and lifestyle. Vitamin E and zinc have been known to increase fertility while certain prescription medications can reduce it. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight. Develop eating and exercise habits that help you manage a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, you are at greater risk for developing serious chronic conditions and experiencing fertility problems.
  7. Learn your family history. Find out whether your family has any health conditions that could affect your child’s health and share that information with your doctor.
  8. Prevent violence. You can get help if you are experiencing violence or you are violent toward people you love. Contact the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence at 602-279-2900 or atacesdv.org.
  9. Care for your mental health. About 1 in 5 dads will have a major depression episode before their child’s 12th birthday. Talk to a health-care professional if feelings of sadness or anxiety do not go away, especially if they interfere with your daily life.

The award-winning, nationally recognized Arizona Department of Health Services is responsible for leading Arizona’s public health system including responding to disease outbreaks, licensing health and childcare facilities, operating the Arizona State Hospital and improving the overall health and wellness of all Arizonans.