Expectant fathers 'need care too'

Expectant fathers should receive prenatal care as well as their partners, new research has suggested. Carried out by University of Missouri researcher ManSoo Yu, the study found that the stress dads to be experience can influence the health of their spouse.

The specialist - who is an Assistant Professor at the institution's Public Health Program - suggested health services should use counselling and assessments for both men and women.

This approach will help to reduce stressors and promote positive pregnancy outcomes, he added.

Mr Yu noted men play an important role in caring for their pregnant partners - and mental distress in those with-child, such as that caused by anxiety and low self-esteem, is connected to poor infant health.

He added: "Acknowledging and addressing the emotional well-being of men as well as women is recommended."

Chartered Psychologist Dr Nigel Sherriff said: "The findings and recommendations of this study are important for they resonate with the substantial and growing (international) literature on the need for health professionals and other public services to involve and engage with men and fathers meaningfully before and after birth."

"Fathers have a crucial but currently overlooked role in terms of contributing to their child's development, health and wellbeing. Such research therefore not only raises the profile of the need to meet fathers' needs, but also highlights that meeting such needs is inextricably linked with the needs and positive well-being of mothers and children."

A recent study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood found that babies who are breastfed are less likely to experience behavioural problems in later life than those who are not.