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Overweight men are more likely to father undersized babies, new research says.
A University of Auckland Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (Scope) study of more than 2000 Auckland and Adelaide couples found a direct relationship between a father's obesity and an increased risk of small for gestational age (SGA) babies.
SGA babies were more likely to suffer complications or be stillborn.
The study's findings appeared to be independent of any maternal factors linked to restricted fetal growth, lead researcher Professor Lesley McCowan said.
"This is an important finding as it suggests that a dad's health can also impact on the unborn baby," she said.
"What this study highlights is the need for more research to better understand the linkages between paternal birth-weight, later adult obesity and birth of SGA offspring."
Prof McCowan said the findings reinforced previous studies that found fathers of SGA babies were more likely to have been small at birth themselves.
"This suggests that birth size could, in part, be inherited through the paternal germ line. It also provides some support for the theory that low birth-weight is linked to later obesity," she said.