Looking at medicines prospective fathers are taking may be as important as those being taken by prospective mothers, Elizabeth Tracey reports


When the diabetes medicine metformin is taken by men in the three months prior to conception of sons, it may increase the risk for genital and urinary tract malformations three and a half times, a Danish study finds. Rita Kalyani, a diabetes expert at Johns Hopkins, says while attention has been focused on the health of prospective mothers for some time, it may be time to look at fathers also.

Kalyani: I think this study certainly gives us pause to think about investigating the impact of medication use in the father, whether it’s metformin, other diabetes drugs or drugs in general, on spermatogenesis. The finding that the birth defects in this study were only seen in boys does suggest that there probably is some mechanism related to sex hormones. This was an observational study, it does have limitations, and I do think we need better prospective studies to look at this question.  :30

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.