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[New Analysis] Five Decades of Research Shows Why Dad’s Involvement is Vital During the Prenatal Period

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Mar 8, 2022


A new analysis by a team at the University of Southern California of more than 50 years of research shows why dads’ involvement prenatally is vital to children’s healthy development.

The analysis, originally reported on in the Child & Family Blog, identified these three ways that the development of children is influenced by dads prior to their children’s conception.

1) Dads’ behaviors

2) Dads’ exposure to environmental toxins

3) Dads’ stress when they were young

Additionally, the analysis revealed these four ways that children’s development is influenced by dads during the pregnancy.

4) Dads’ neurological and biological changes

5) Dads’ health-related behaviors

6) Dads’ depression and relationship quality with moms

7) The interaction between dads’ and moms’ hormone levels

(To learn more about each of these seven influences, click here.)

Unfortunately, public health and other human service organizations have been slow to respond with programs and services that leverage dads’ influence. (For a free infographic that shows why, click here.) Therefore, the researchers call on organizations to do four things.

1) Consider dads’ health behaviors as well as moms’.

2) Assess and treat dads’ mental health as well as moms’.

3) Treat family stress and attend to the couple relationship.

4) Provide access for dads to family leave.

Fortunately, National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) has evidence-based and evidence-informed programs and resources that help human service organizations build their capacity to leverage dads’ influence for the benefit of children, moms, and families. Organizations can implement them during the prenatal and postnatal periods and beyond. They include programs and resources that help: 

  • Prepare dads during the prenatal period for their role in the pregnancy.
  • Increase dads’ involvement during the pregnancy.
  • Build pro-fathering attitudes, knowledge, and skills.
  • Increase relationship quality between dads and moms.
  • Improve coparenting.
  • Raise awareness of the importance of paternity leave.

To learn more about NFI’s programs and resources, visit our programs and resource page and fathersource.org. Contact our staff for details on which programs and resources build capacity in each of these areas.

How does your organization leverage dads’ influence during the prenatal and postnatal periods to ensure the healthy development of children?

Do you want to learn more about how NFI builds the capacity of human service organizations to be father-inclusive? If so, click

Learn more about the Father Engagement Academy by National Fatherhood Initiative

Topics: child welfare, dads and prenatal, Featured, General Fatherhood Program Resources, NFI-Specific Programs & Resources, General Fatherhood Research & Studies, child best interests

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