Babies resembling their fathers are healthier

A new study has shown that babies that look like their fathers and spend more time with their fathers are likely to be healthier at their first birthday. The study comes from researchers at the Binghamton University, State University of New York. The paper is titled, “If looks could heal: Child health and paternal investment,” and was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Health Economics.

If looks could heal: Child health and paternal investment. Image Credit: MCarper / Shutterstock
If looks could heal: Child health and paternal investment. Image Credit: MCarper / Shutterstock

Research Professor of Economics at Binghamton University Solomon Polachek and his team found that fathers are important in child raising and their presence could improve the health of the child. Polachek worked with Marlon Tracey from Southern Illinois University looking at data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study. This study included 715 families of single mothers and their babies. For this study, the team interviewed the single mothers right after birth and then around the child’s first birthday. They noted the number and duration of emergency visits for the child as well as number of asthma attacks during the year.

They found that infants that looked like their fathers tended to have their fathers around more often than those that did not resemble their fathers. On an average fathers spend 2.5 days more per month with kids that looked like them. These kids were also found to be healthier at their first birthdays. Dr. Polachek said that fathers perceiving the babies to be theirs tended to spend more time with them in positive parenting. In fragile families, this presence of the father goes to enhance the child’s health.

The authors of the study quantified the paternal involvement with increased time spent with the baby, care giving, supervision and regular involvement in the baby’s health and financial needs. The authors believe this study should encourage the non-resident fathers to be more involved in the child’s upbringing to improve the health of the child during early years. This could be achieved, Polachek said by health education, parenting classes and also vocational training that could increase earnings.

“It’s been said that ‘it takes a village’ but [we found] that having an involved father certainly helps,” Polachek said. The study however did not prove that looking like daddy translates into good health for the babies warn experts. Involved fathers are the real reason behind the good health of the babies.

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