Dads’ Jobs Linked to Birth Defects

Children of photographers, landscapers, computer scientists and more have an increased risk for birth defects, a new study found.

So you’re planning on getting pregnant, and you’ve got all your ducks in a row—you quit drinking, quit smoking, are taking lots of folic acid, saw your dentist, and even cut down on caffeine. (No more Venti lattes … ) What more can you do?

Consider the occupation of your partner-parent-to-be. A study of birth defects and the jobs baby-daddies hold showed some surprising results. Researchers looked at the job histories of a thousand dads whose kids had birth defects and 4,000 dads whose kids didn’t. One-third of all job types showed no increase in birth defects, including glassblowers, architects, firefighters, fishermen and entertainers. But other categories of jobs showed an increased risk of a child with birth defects. Among them: mathematicians and computer scientists; photographers and photo processors; landscapers; hairdressers; office workers; food service workers, and crane operators. Even more intriguingly, the scientists were able to link certain jobs with specific types of defects: The children of artists were associated with defects of the mouth, eyes and ears, stomach, limbs and heart, while photographers and photo processors were linked to eye defects, and landscapers to digestive abnormalities.

The study focused on the dads’ employment for the three months before conception and the first month of pregnancy, the period during which damage is most likely to be passed on from sperm.