Dads need to help pregnant moms with healthy eating.
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New Study Shows What Dads Eat During Partner's Pregnancy Has Impact On Baby's Health

Being a team player can benefit baby’s health in the long-term.

Pregnant women have long felt the pressure to keep a watchful eye on their eating and drinking habits to ensure their baby gets the best start possible. But what about the dads? Technically their bodies are totally separate entities from their child’s, so you might think they could eat all the chips and candy they want. But this is not the case. A new study from Australia has found that a dad's eating habits during their partner's pregnancy can play a major role in the well-being of their baby.

Conducted by the Queensland Family Cohort and led by the University of Queensland and Mater Research, a study of approximately 200 couples in Queensland, Australia, all of whom were in heterosexual relationships and expecting babies, looked at how an expectant dad’s diet could affect the health of their baby. The couples all agreed to report on their eating habits to give a sense of how the father’s diet might affect things.

It turns out, the expectant fathers who followed the recommended daily dietary guidelines helped their pregnant partner do the same. The guidelines included lots of fruit, vegetables, cereals, and grains, and there was a direct link between a dad’s compliance with the dietary guidelines and a mom’s diet. For example, only 28.4% of moms were consuming enough vegetables compared with 15% of dads, while 41.4% of moms were eating enough fruit compared with 31% of dads.

Essentially, these dads helped keep their pregnant partner on track with their own healthy eating habits by being a good team player. After all, it’s pretty difficult to stick with a healthy eating plan if the person you live with is eating junk food in front of you all the time.

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Naturally, healthy eating habits during pregnancy are one of the ways a baby can thrive long term. “Healthy eating during pregnancy provides the unborn child with an important foundation for future good health, but many pregnant women aren't meeting the recommended Australian dietary guidelines,” Professor Vicki Clifton, who was the lead investigator in this study for Queensland Family Cohort, explained to “The research suggests better education and support for partners could help improve the eating habits of expectant mums, which in turn will make the fetus healthier and lower their future risk of disease.”

“While it’s known that education, income and Body Mass Index influence how women eat in pregnancy, this study addresses the gap in knowledge in how a partner’s eating habits influence mums-to-be,” Dr. Shelley Wilkinson said, a lead author of the study, told the University of Queensland.

Supporting an expectant mom by sharing in her dietary choices isn’t the only way a dad can help to ensure his baby’s health. A 2013 study from McGill University in Montreal found that a higher level of vitamin B9 or folate in a dad’s diet prior to conception can be critical to a baby’s healthy development, per Global News. This vitamin is found in leafy greens, some meets and fortified cereals, and is an important element in helping to prevent possible birth defects.

It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a couple to pull off a healthy diet during pregnancy.


Queensland Family Cohort Study (2022),