Scientist Richard Pilsner from University of Massachusetts Amherst in the U.S. is investigating whether phthalate levels in fathers-to-be have an effect on a couple’s reproductive success. Pilsener is studying epigenetic modifications on sperm DNA—marks on the genetic code which can be transmitted to the next generation, without changing the actual genetic code. Pilsner says, “What we’re asking, basically, is whether dad’s environmental health contributes to reproductive success, and if so, how is that transmitted to offspring?”. The study is one of the first to look at father’s lifestyle and associated health effects in children. Samples are taken from 250 couples at a Massachusetts fertility clinic, and eight different phthalates will be measured in urine, as well as epigenetic changes in the sperm. Later analysis for additional chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) are possible.

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Does dad matter? New study looks at his environmental exposure in reproductive success. Medicalxpress (online June 11, 2014)