A father's gut could affect overall health of his baby, study finds

A father's gut health could directly impact the health of his newborn, a study has found. (Getty Images)
A father's gut health could directly impact the health of his newborn, a study has found. (Getty Images)

Our gut health is pivotal to how we function, affecting everything from our mental to our physical health – but a new study has found that the health of a parent’s gut could also affect their newborn baby.

To find these results, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Rome treated 28 mice with antibiotics, which can decrease the amounts of microbes in the gut by ten-fold.

These mice, along with 26 mice not given antibiotics, were then mated with females which produced over 400 offspring.

The scientists found that the baby mice from the fathers who had taken the antibiotics had significantly lower birth weights, and were 2.5 times more likely to have stunted growth at two weeks old.

Nearly one in five (17%) or these mice died within three months, compared to just 5% of the offspring from the mice with better gut health.

"This paper represents a significant leap forward in our understanding of the intricate relationship between gut and reproductive health," says Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello at Rutgers University.

Father's Care. Young Black Dad Holding And Kissing Adorable Newborn Baby At Home, Cute Infant Child Looking At Camera, African American Daddy Bonding With His Son Or Daughter At Home, Closeup Shot
A father's gut health could impact their baby's birth weight and growth. (Getty Images)

While the scientists understand that there is a link between the father’s gut health and the health of a newborn baby, they have yet to understand why this happens, which means further studies will be required.

Several studies have already looked into gut health and the impact on reproduction in females, as the health of our gut can affect nutrient absorption, which is pivotal for women looking to conceive who are taking vitamins such as iron, folate, and vitamin D.

Our gut health can also play a role in stress via the gut-brain axis, which can also have an impact on fertility. In both sexes, inflammation of the gut can lead to disrupted hormone production, which can result in decreased sperm quality and ovulation problems.

A separate study from 2019 found that the gut bacteria a child inherits from their mother can play a crucial role in their overall health later in life. So, it appears that gut health of all parents is key when having a child.