Epigenetics: How the Habits of Fathers Are Passed Onto Children

Epigenetics: How the Habits of Fathers Are Passed Onto Children


When a sperm reaches an egg, a dramatic yet
microscopic chemical reaction takes place. At the very moment of fertilization, the baby’s
genes and sex are determined. It is well known that fathers pass on their
genetic makeup to their children; however, a recent study in Denmark suggests that fathers
pass on more than just DNA! In a 2015 NY Times article, titled ‘Fathers
May Pass Down More Than Just Genes…’ we are told the story of an obese Danish man
who went to the hospital to have his stomach stapled. “A week before the operation, the man provided
a sperm sample to Danish scientists. A week after the procedure, he did so again. A year later, he donated a third sample. Scientists were investigating a tantalizing
but controversial hypothesis: that a man’s experiences can alter his sperm, and that
those changes in turn may alter his children.” A study in northern China sufficiently documented
that having a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) results in an overall higher quality level
of semen but what these Danish scientists and other studies suggest, is that the general
health and well-being of the father has an impact on the children he begets. The article explains that studies carried
out on rats produced results we expect may occur in humans. Experiments were conducted whereby male rats
were fed on a high-fat diet and the fathered offspring “…tended to gain more weight,
develop more fat and have more trouble regulating insulin levels”. Similarly, rats that were exposed to higher
stress levels tended to “…father pups that have a dampened response to stress.” The proposed explanation behind all of this
stems from epigenetic molecules called microRNAs. These molecules respond to environmental influences
and in turn impact the genetic behaviour of the offspring. The science behind epigenetics, which is the
study of heritable changes in gene expression, is still in its infancy. An example would be that of a chemical suppressing
how a gene would normally behave. An interesting study on eighty volunteer Caucasian
identical twins from Spain was conducted in 2005. The findings of this study demonstrated that
over time the genetic behaviour of identical twins is impacted by both internal and external
factors: “…Smoking habits, physical activity, or diet, among others, are external factors
that have been proposed to have a long-term influence on epigenetic modifications.” These studies should provoke us to consider
that the lifestyle choices of a father may well be handed down to that of his children. As you go through life, the choices you make
will impact not only yourself and those around you in either a positive or negative way,
but perhaps they will also affect future generations that may stem from you. You may have no interest in the Bible but
if you haven’t read this before, consider that “The Lord is longsuffering and abundant
in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting
the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.” Perhaps epigenetics is a key factor in whether
or not our descendants benefit or suffer as a result of our actions? Subscribe and click the notification bell to receive updates about new content. Visit TomorrowsWorld.org for more articles, telecasts and booklets.

2 thoughts on “Epigenetics: How the Habits of Fathers Are Passed Onto Children

  1. My children are physical and behavioral copies of their dad. I can hardly believe they're biologically mine.

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