Preparation for fatherhood: A survey of men's preconception health knowledge and behaviour in England

Jill Shawe, Dilisha Patel, Mark Joy, Beth Howden, Geraldine Barrett, Judith Stephenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
262 Downloads (Pure)


METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of men attending antenatal care with their partners at three London Maternity Units. We assessed level of pregnancy planning using the partner version of the London Measure of Unplanned Pregnancy (LMUP), preconception health behaviours, and whether they had sought information and health professional advice before conception.

MAIN RESULTS: We recruited 573 men (91% response rate). Mean age was 34 years, 86% were in employment or full time education and 66% had a degree. Half were overweight or obese, 16% were still smoking and 79% had consumed alcohol in the three months before conception. Of 250 men answering questions about medication, a third were taking medication with potentially adverse effects on male reproductive health, while 23% reported taking pre-pregnancy vitamins. 46.9% had looked at information about pregnancy from a variety of sources, including online, before their partner became pregnant. Assessed by the LMUP, 74% of pregnancies were planned. Male 'planners' were more likely than other men to reduce smoking, reduce alcohol consumption and to eat more healthily in preparation for pregnancy. However, 57% took no action to improve their health.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FINDINGS: In a sample of relatively educated men accompanying their partners on an antenatal visit, nearly half had made at least one positive health behaviour change before pregnancy, but half were overweight or obese and a third were on medication that could impair male reproductive health. These findings, together with a high prevalence of alcohol consumption and smoking, indicate the need for greater paternal preconception health awareness and care. Innovative ways to promote positive messages about fatherhood, including medication review as part of preconception care, should be evaluated for impact on improving paternal reproductive health and pregnancy and neonatal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0213897
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019


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