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A pregnant woman’s prenatal diet has always been under the proverbial microscope in terms of developing a healthy baby. But a new McGill University study has discovered that what dads eat (or don’t eat) before conception may play an equally important role in the health of newborns. The research focused on vitamin B9, also called folate, mainly because it’s already well-known that folate is a necessary dietary need of mothers in order to help avoid miscarriages and birth defects. The researchers on the study worked with daddy mice, comparing the offspring of mice who ate sufficient vs. insufficient levels of folate, found commonly in green leafy vegetables, cereals, fruit and meats. During the study, the researchers then found that paternal folate deficiency was also associated with an increased risk of birth defects, which in turn shows that babies are affected by their dad’s diet, maybe just as much as moms. Dr. Romain Lambrot, of McGill’s Dept. of Animal Science, notes, “We were very surprised to see that there was an almost 30% increase in birth defects in the litters sired by fathers whose levels of folates were insufficient. We saw some pretty severe skeletal abnormalities that included both cranio-facial and spinal deformities.” The researchers note that there are apparently regions of the sperm epigenome that are sensitive to diet issues and these issues can be translated into the health and proper development of a baby. These findings suggest that all men who would like to have children should pay attention to what they eat because they too play a vital role in their baby’s development.