Los Angeles: Prospective fathers should consider taking folic acid supplements to improve their chances of fathering a child, according to new US research.
A study by the University of California has found a link between high levels of the nutrient in men’s diets and the genetic quality of sperm. Those with the highest levels had the lowest proportion of sperm with genetic changes that can lead to Down’s syndrome and miscarriages.
It has already been proven that women who are trying for a baby should ensure they have adequate levels of folic acid. The B vitamin is essential for foetal development and a deficiency during the early stages of pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects in the baby, including spina bifida.
Professor Brenda Eskenazi at the University and her team looked at how micronutrients affect sperm quality. They took sperm samples from 89 healthy, non-smoking men and asked detailed questions about diet and supplement intake.
They report in the journal Human Reproduction that there was an association between levels of folate in the diet and the numbers of sperm displaying aneuploidy – chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to failure to conceive and Down’s syndrome. “There was increasing benefit with increasing intake.”
The team found no consistent association between dietary zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene and sperm quality. Eskenazi suggested men trying to father a child should consider taking multivitamin supplements containing folate.