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The fatherhood gene

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2010-07-05 -

Last year I encouraged new dads to join a study commissioned by ABC’s Catalyst program in the effect of pregnancy on men’s health.

The results are now in.

Last week Catalyst aired its fatherhood special. The program looked at similarities between the best fathers in the animal kingdom and the fact that scientists have now isolated the DNA of fathering. It’s really a ‘family’ gene because it also codes for male-to-female bonding.

Catalyst also focused on sympathetic pregnancies (Couvade Syndrome); when the father manifests some symptoms of his partner’s pregnancy. Catalysts’ study found it was no myth among Aussie dads: 31% of Australian expectant fathers felt the effects of Couvade Syndrome, making them more broody than UK dads (25%). Catalyst found that, among other things, testosterone levels in expectant dads plunged after the birth while prolactin levels increased.

While it’s obvious that not every expectant dad goes through a sympathetic pregnancy, the study does prove that humans can be socially primed for child birth.

What I particularly liked about the Catalyst special were the candid interviews with three new dads, who described the first minutes of their children's lives. They were highly emotional tales and these guys should be congratulated for sharing such an intimate experience with us. So much attention is focused on how mums cope with childbirth that we rarely stop to listen to dads’ points of view. This segment gave me a really valuable perspective.

You should be able to view the special at ABC’s website for a short while. The full results of Catalysts’ study are also available online.





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