New studies have found a link between a father’s experiences and a change in an unborn child’s genome. Most human traits, such as weight, height, intelligence, etc., are partly inherited. However, researchers have taken a growing interest in epigenetics to explain heritability. Epigenetics refers to the information in the genome over and above DNA sequence. Modification of a father’s epigenetics during his lifetime can potentially be passed down to his offspring. Certain environmental influences, such as nutrition and age, can influence the epigenetics of a father that can be passed down to children, possibly creating health consequences later in life. Effects on the father’s sperm and histone proteins around the DNA seem to be the result of some environmental causes. A study at McGill University used genetic engineering in mice to alter one on the histone proteins (KDM1A histone lysine 4 demethylase) involved in epigenetics. Results showed influence in the health and development of the mice over generations.
This topic immediately caught my attention. I always believed genetic influence only came from the genetics we were born with. I did know, however, the life choices of the mother during pregnancy had an effect on the child’s healthy and development, but I never knew that the father’s life experience can affect the child genome. From previous schooling, I was always taught that experiences are not passed down to offspring. From this study, I now know certain experiences can have an effect on the father that can alter the genome of a child.