Possible Effects of Dad’s Environmental Exposure to Chemicals on Offspring Development

While much of the research on the early risk factors for schizophrenia are focused on the female before and during pregnancy (low stress, and proper nutritional intake, and avoidance of toxins like cigarette smoking, illegal drugs, etc. for 6 months prior to pregnancy (because the egg that will be fertilized will be absorbing those chemicals (a negative), there is increasing research around the role of preventative health steps that men can also take to increase the likelihood of a healthy child.

Here is one example of such research:

Possible Effects of Dad’s Environmental Exposure to Chemicals on Offspring Development

Pilsner says that with this study, he would like to redefine reproductive health and how we regard environmental health. “For women wanting to get pregnant, we know they shouldn’t be smoking or drinking a lot, but no one has thought enough about the paternal side, about the father’s role. We will investigate whether dad’s environment can shape offspring growth and development. We hope this research opens up some insights into the role of dad during the two to three months before he and his partner try to become pregnant. In addition to his female partner, he may have some environmental responsibility prior to conception.”
Epigenetics refers to heritable change in gene expression without change in the DNA sequence, Mager explains. A relatively new field, epigenetics is useful in investigating the interaction of the environment with gene expression, which can change functions in an organism without changing its DNA sequence.

Pilsner adds, “With this mouse study, we will expose mouse sperm during a window that represents the time it takes for male germ cells to produce mature sperm.” This will complement Pilsner’s ongoing work from his human cohort study, “Sperm Environmental Epigenetics and Development Study” (SEEDS), which is examining the preconception paternal environmental influences on early-life development in collaboration with Baystate Medical Center’s IVF clinic in Springfield, Mass.

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