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Fathers’ lifestyle, age affect children’s epigenome

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Scientists from the Georgetown University Medical Center say that a growing body of research is revealing associations between birth defects and a father’s age, alcohol use, and environmental factors. They say these defects result from epigenetic alterations that can potentially affect multiple generations.

The study (“Influence of Paternal Preconception Exposures on Their Offspring: Through Epigenetics to Phenotype”), published in the American Journal of Stem Cells, suggests both parents contribute to the health status of their offspring, a common-sense conclusion that science is only now beginning to demonstrate, says the study’s senior investigator, Joanna Kitlinska, Ph.D., an associate professor in biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology.

“We know the nutritional, hormonal, and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response, and gene expression in her offspring,” she explains. “But our study shows the same thing to be true with fathers—his lifestyle, and how old he is, can be reflected in molecules that control gene function. In this way, a father can affect not only his immediate offspring, but future generations as well.”

Read full, original post: Blame Daddy for Some Epigenetically Induced Birth Defects in Children

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