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Your Environment. Your Health.

Father’s Obesity Could Have Epigenetic Effects

Cathrine Hoyo, Ph.D.
Duke University
NIEHS Grants R21ES014947, R01ES016772

A study partially supported by NIEHS found that newborns with obese fathers had significantly less DNA methylation of the insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) gene. Since reduced DNA methylation of this gene is associated with a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the study findings suggest that a father’s obesity could influence his child’s future health.

The researchers looked for associations between preconceptional obesity and changes in IGF2 DNA methylation. They examined DNA from 79 newborns whose mothers participated in the Newborn Epigenetics Study during pregnancy and also gathered information about both parents using questionnaires and medical records.

Even after adjusting for several maternal and newborn characteristics, they observed a persistent inverse association between DNA methylation in the offspring and paternal obesity (beta-coefficient was -5.28, P = 0.003). The researchers say that the changes in DNA methylation could result from obesity-related factors, such as diet or having diabetes, that were not measured in the study.


Citation: Soubry A, Schildkraut JM, Murtha A, Wang F, Huang Z, Bernal A, Kurtzberg J, Jirtle RL, Murphy SK, Hoyo C. 2013. Paternal obesity is associated with IGF2 hypomethylation in newborns: results from a Newborn Epigenetics Study (NEST) cohort. BMC Med 11:29.

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