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Does parenting start even before you conceive?

Posted on Aug 17 2014 | IANS

Sydney, Aug 17 : It is not just your genes. Age and many other lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking and diet impact the future of your kids, says a study.

Parental influences on a child begin before conception, because stored environmental factors in the egg and sperm are contributing more than just genetic material to the child, researchers noted.

This includes a higher risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The likelihood of conditions like anxiety and immune dysfunction can also be affected.

"This really is a new frontier for reproductive and developmental research," said Sarah Robertson, a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

It is only in the last 10 years that the the science community has been seriously discussing the influence of environmental factors prior to conception on the child's future development.

"People used to think that it did not matter because a child represented a new beginning, with a fresh start," Robertson added.

"The reality is, we can now say with great certainty that the child does not quite start from scratch -- they already carry over a legacy of factors from their parents' experiences that can shape development in the fetus and after birth," she maintained.

Depending on the situation, we can give our children a burden before they have even started life, Robertson noted.

A few lifestyle changes by potential parents and improvements in the right direction, especially in the months leading up to conception, could have a lasting, positive benefit for the future of their child, she said.

The study appeared in the journal Science.

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