Over a quarter of pregnancies might end up as ectopic, in miscarriage or stillbirth if the father-to-be is unhealthy and has three or more medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, a study has revealed.
The researchers emphasised that pre-conception counselling should not forget the father, as his health may have an important impact on the pregnancy outcome.
The study, published in Human Reproduction, a peer-reviewed journal, was carried out by researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, California, United States.
According to the study, which involved nearly a million pregnancies between 2009 and 2016 in the US, if a father was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome that includes the listed medical conditions, there was an increased risk of the mother losing the pregnancy.
It noted that, compared to men who had none of the components of metabolic syndrome, the risk of pregnancy loss increased by 10 per cent, 15 per cent and 19 per cent respectively for men with one, two or three or more components.
According to Mayo Clinic, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
It noted that the conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol level.
Speaking further on the finding, lead researcher and Associate Professor, Michael Eisenberg, said it had been known that the health of mothers has an impact on the developing foetus and events at the time of birth, but that the health of fathers never received attention.
He explained that the study is the first to suggest that pregnancies sired by men with increasing numbers of medical conditions are at higher risk of ending in miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.
“In the group of men we studied, the risk of losing the pregnancy was 17 per cent in couples where the father had no components of the metabolic syndrome.
“But it increased to 21 per cent in couples where the father has one metabolic syndrome component, 23 per cent where he has two, and 27 per cent where he has three or more.
“While this study can’t prove that poor paternal health is a cause of pregnancy loss, it shows there is an association.”
Reacting to the findings, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Kelvin Madu, said the health of the father doesn’t in all cases impact on the pregnancy, especially in the case of ectopic pregnancy, which has more to do with implantation.
While speaking with our correspondent, Madu, who heads OAR Medical Centre in Egbeda, Lagos, said ectopic pregnancy has more to do with the mother than father-to-be.