Ethical aspects of paternal preconception lifestyle modification.

Research paper by Boukje B van der Zee, Guido G de Wert, Eric A EA Steegers, Inez D ID de Beaufort

Indexed on: 15 Jan '13Published on: 15 Jan '13Published in: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology


This Clinical Opinion points to a potential conflict between the scarcity of evidence on paternal preconception risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes and the view that preconception care should be also directed at men. We argue that from an ethical perspective, responsible fatherhood starts already before conception, as long as the evidence increases on the benefits of paternal preconception lifestyle (modification). Our explorative study suggests that the strength of the evidence for paternal preconception lifestyle modification is important for men. We argue that 5 aspects together determine the moral responsibility of prospective fathers to modify their behavior: the strength of the evidence of the risk factor, the modifiability of the risk, the efforts necessary to eliminate or diminish the risk factor, the severity of harm, and the probability that harm will occur and that it will be prevented by modifying the risk factor. The case of paternal preconception smoking illustrates the analysis.