Medicine: Fatherly Risk

Papa may cause defects too

When thousands of badly deformed babies were born in the early 1960s to women who had taken the tranquilizer thalidomide, the tragedy underscored a brutal fact of life: would-be mothers exposed to drugs during pregnancy can endanger the health of their offspring. Indeed, doctors have long assumed that the mother alone is responsible for chemically induced birth defects. The father was considered blameless. At worst, a male's lifestyle—whether he took drugs, for example, or smoked or drank—might affect his own health but not that of his child. Now some doctors are beginning to suspect that dad's habits...

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