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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

For the baby, what eats the father before conception also count

Eating a balanced diet including adequate intake of folate (vitamin B9) before conceiving a child could be important in the future father in the mother to prevent certain birth defects in their offspring.

This is indicated by a study on mice by researchers from McGill University and published Tuesday in the British scientific journal Nature Communications .

Led by Sarah Kimmins, the study compared the offspring of male mice fed a diet rich in folate with those of male mice having ingested little folate before conception.

"We were very surprised to see an increase of nearly 30% of birth defects in litters whose father had reduced levels of folate," says Romain Lambrot, one of the authors of the study, which states that it was "very severe skeletal malformations" in the skull and spine.

In humans, a link has been established between folate deficiency (or folic acid which is involved in cell division) in early pregnancy and serious anomalies, such as the closure of the neural tube (AFTN) often fatal in utero or at birth, and that concern about pregnancy in 1000 in France.

To prevent this type of malformation (including spina bifida), a systematic prescription of folate is currently recommended in France for women who want to be mothers. It should normally start at least eight weeks before conception and continue during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Folate in its natural state are mainly found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, eggs and cheese. But they are also added as a supplement in many foods.

The results obtained in mice will now be replicated in a fertility clinic (medical assisted procreation), says Kimmins, to determine "the links that can exist among men" between diet and health of their children .

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