Thursday, 15 September 2011

Dad's are biologically programmed to care

There was news this week of a study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences who followed 624 young men before and after they became fathers. The study found that as soon as a man bcame a father, his testosterone levels dropped substantially. Men with newborn babies less than a month old had especially reduced levels of testosterone. Larger falls were also seen in men who were more involved in childcare.

Christopher Kuzawa, lead investigator of the work, which was carried out in the Philippines said: "Raising human offspring is such an effort that it is co-operative by necessity, and our study shows that human fathers are biologically wired to help with the job."

"Fatherhood and the demands of having a newborn baby require many emotional, psychological and physical adjustments. Our study indicates that a man's biology can change substantially to help meet those demands."

The researchers think that lower testosterone levels might also protect against certain chronic diseases, which might help explain why married men and fathers often enjoy better health than single men of the same age.

Testosterone is the hormone which makes men go out and find a mate, often competing to do so.Professor Ashley Grossman, spokesman for the Society for Endocrinology, said: "this shows the hormonal and behavioural trade-off between mating and parenting, one requiring a high and the other a low testosterone level."

Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: "The observations could make some evolutionary sense if we accept the idea that men with lower testosterone levels are more likely to be monogamous with their partner and care for children. However, it would be important to check that link between testosterone levels and behaviour before we could be certain."

Children North East publishes a series of guides for Dads for sale from our Father's Plus website, look out for the latest one about Dads and Midwives.

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