Our diet affects our health. But can it affect the health of our children? New research is showing that a man’s dinnertime decisions can shape the genetic message his sperm delivers to his offspring. These images show the developing breastbones of three unborn mice. The father of the mouse on the left was fed on a diet rich in folate (found for example in spinach) and the bone (red) and cartilage (blue) are taking shape nicely. But the fathers of the other two mice were starved of folate, and the structures are misaligned (middle) or incomplete (right). Why? Folate is a key part of the markers that sit atop our DNA and signpost how it should be read. Without sufficient folate, the DNA in the male’s sperm lacks these signposts, and his children could be set on a perilous path of development without a complete map to show the way.
Written by Anthony Lewis