Sarah Kimmins says their findings suggest that fathers need to think about what they eat, smoke and drink just as much as mothers do, as their lifestyle choices could impact future generations.
And she notes that although folate is added to many foods, fathers who have diets that are high in fat or who are obese may be unable to metabolize folate in the same way as those who have sufficient levels of the vitamin.
"People who live in the Canadian North or in other parts of the world where there is food insecurity may also be particularly at risk for folate deficiency. And we now know that this information will be passed on from the father to the embryo with consequences that may be quite serious."
The researchers say that the next steps from this research will be to collaborate with professionals at a fertility clinic in order to further investigate how a man's diet and weight could impact their child's health. Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that a father's occupation may be linked to the risk of birth defects in their infants.
Written by Honor Whiteman