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Why Fathers Really Matter - Nature vs. Nurture vs. Genetics?

We’ve all heard the stories about what women do when they’re pregnant can have a dramatic impact on their baby’s health and well-being after the baby is born. Experts have that said for decades that expecting mothers shouldn’t drink alcohol in excess, smoke, eat sushi or fish, or a myriad of other “dont’s” while they are pregnant. Up until only recently, it seemed that only the mother’s behavior before and during pregnancy was the single most important factor in determining the baby’s health and environment in which the baby would be born.

However, a recent study suggests that the choices men make before becoming a father – eating, drinking, using drugs – as well as their overall health, happiness and well-being also have a measurable impact on their future children’s lives. In a recent Sunday Review article in the New York Times, writer Judith Shulevitz claims that while doctors have been telling men that some behaviors can impact their future children, “what doctors should probably add is that the health of unborn children can be affected by what and how much men eat; the toxins they absorb; the traumas they endure; their poverty or powerlessness; and their age at the time of conception. In other words, what a man needs to know is that his life experience leaves biological traces on his children. Even more astonishingly, those children may pass those traces along to their children.”

The article concludes that men should also be held accountable for their choices and behaviors when it comes to shaping the lives of the generations to come. It’s an interesting concept that appears to be increasingly backed by scientific data. Or to borrow a quote from Gladiator, maybe it’s true that “what we do in life echoes in eternity.”

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