According to a group of researchers, babies may get some surprising benefits if they look like their father. The study reveals they tend to be healthier.
The researchers arrived at the conclusion because babies who bear a resemblance to their father get more attention from them. And the more time that babies spend with their fathers, the healthier they become.
It also stated that dads tend to spend more time with their baby if it resembles them. The more attention babies get from their dads, the healthier they are by one year old.
HOW DOES A CHILD’S RESEMBLANCE TO THEIR FATHER IMPACT THEIR HEALTH?
Researchers from Binghamton University and Southern Illinois University studied 715 families in which babies live with only their mother.
Dads who looked like their babies spent an average of 2.5 more days per month with their babies than fathers who didn’t resemble their offspring.
An extra day per month of time-investment by a typical visiting father improves child health by just over 10% of a standard deviation, according to the study.
To measure the child’s health, the researchers looked at:
- How often they experienced asthma episodes and attacks
- The number of health care visits for illness
- The number of emergency room visits
- How long they spent in a hospital
‘The main explanation is that frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for caregiving and supervision, and for information gathering about child health and economic needs,’ he continued.
Put simply, fathers who are uncertain about their paternal role may draw conclusions based on how much they resemble their baby.
He then uses this information to determine how much he wants to invest in the child’s health and well-being.
‘One possible explanation is that frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for care-giving and supervision and for information gathering about child health and economic needs,’ the study noted.
The relationship between father and child resemblance and caregiving behaviours has roots in evolutionary theory, according to the study.
Evolutionary theory says that parents spend more time looking after children who are genetically related to them, which increases the odds that the babies will grow up, have their own offspring and pass on their genes, Live Science noted.
Meanwhile, fathers may find that investing in children that don’t look like them is ‘deemed wasteful since they reduce investment in genetically related offspring,’ the study said.
‘It’s been said that ‘it takes a village’ but…having an involved father certainly helps,’ Polachek noted.