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Preparing for motherhood: Do the father’s genes play a role?

| | August 10, 2018

[A] father may have the ability to dictate a mother’s attentiveness to their offspring—before it’s even born. The paternal genes a fetus carries can impact the maternal brain during pregnancy, priming her to allocate more or less of her time to tending to her kids.

[G]enomic imprinting [is] a form of non-genetic inheritance in which both copies of a gene exist, but only one parent’s version is left intact.

Previous work by [researcher Rosalind] John’s research group had found that expression of an imprinted gene called Phlda2 in a fetus hinders the growth of hormone-secreting placental cells. These hormones recruit nutrients to support early development.

Other researchers had noted that these hormones weren’t just working in the placenta, however. Throughout pregnancy, they were actually spreading throughout the mother’s body and accumulating in her brain—leading John to suspect that they could also be encouraging a mother to care for her young.

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Manipulating mom’s parenting approach could be yet another way that a father sneakily exerts his influence over the future wellbeing of his child.

Even before birth, children communicate their fathers’ intent in a way that sticks. The priorities of male and female don’t always match up—and in a way, imprinting is evolution timidly waving a white flag between the clashing sexes.

Read full, original post: How Dad’s Genes Can Prepare Mom for Parenthood

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