Fathers Health Tied to Pregnancy Loss

Conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes in a father may affect whether a pregnancy reaches full term.

A father’s poor health before conception may increase the risk for pregnancy loss, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed records from an employee insurance database that included data on 958,804 pregnancies between 2007 and 2016, along with information on the health of the parents for an average of about four years before conception. The study is in Human Reproduction.

They scored the fathers’ health based on elements of the metabolic syndrome: diagnoses of hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity or diabetes, plus the presence of other common chronic diseases. About one-fifth of the pregnancies ended in either ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion or stillbirth.

Compared with men who had none of these five indications of ill health, those who had one had a 10 percent increased risk for siring a pregnancy that ended in loss. Having two increased the risk by 15 percent, and men who had three or more had a 19 percent increased risk. The age of the mother made little difference, and the study controlled for other maternal and paternal health and behavioral factors.

“We need to think about the father even pre-conception,” said the senior author, Michael L. Eisenberg, an associate professor of urology at Stanford. “We contribute half the DNA, so it makes sense that that would affect the trajectory of the pregnancy. I want to show that the father is important — fertility is a team sport.”

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