The consequence of maternal exposure to a variety of potentially toxic agents during pregnancy remains the prime focus of concern in scientific endeavors and in society at large.
However, there is now mounting evidence that paternal exposure can also adversely affect fetal and postnatal development of offspring and that this imprint can be expressed in subsequent generations.
Scientists are addressing the evidence for male-mediated influences on reproductive success and postnatal development and its implications at a symposium.*
"This symposium will present evidence from both animal and epidemiological studies which demonstrates that paternal exposure to a variety of potential toxins can adversely impact fetal development, produce a wide spectrum of deficits in offspring and be expressed in subsequent generations," said Gladys Friedler, PhD, an emerita associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and organizer of the session.
"The goal of this symposium is to heighten awareness of the significant effect of the male parent in reproductive success and postnatal development as well as to stimulate research on male-mediated effects," added Friedler.
Friedler, who is considered a pioneer in the field, will introduce the symposium with a review of studies which indicate that male exposure to a variety of potential toxins including both recreational and therapeutic drugs, as well as workplace and other exposures can adversely alter reproductive outcome.
The reported impact on offspring outcome includes low birth weight; increase in childhood cancers; developmental, behavioral, endocrine abnormalities and cross-generational effects.
*The multidisciplinary symposium, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science is entitled The Father and Fetus Revisited. Also participating in this symposium are Matthew D. Anway from the University of Idaho, Moscow, who will present his studies: "Epigenetic Transgenerational Reproductive Disease." Political scientist Cynthia R. Daniels, from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, will discuss "Cultural Politics and the Father-Fetal Connection."
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