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Creating Your Super-Baby: Preconception Epigenetics

By Daniel Stickler M.D. | Articles

The DNA passed along by both parents can be impacted by a variety of factors. The developing embryo can be set up for success or made more susceptible to future health issues. Taking steps to epigenetically supercharge your DNA before conception will give your future children a head start in life. Preconception planning really has no specific time frame but research into epigenetics tells us that optimizing lifestyle patterns about 2 ½ to 3 months prior to conception can have profound impacts on the future of your child.

Birth Season

The season and even month that children are born can impact them for the rest of their lives. Children born in autumn and winter have increased risk for seasonal allergies and asthma and decreased risk for depression and irritability. Children born in the spring have increased risk for mood swings countered by reduced risk for seasonal and food allergies.

These different degrees of risk or protection are based on the presence or absence of antibodies and methylation in the parent’s DNA at the time of conception.

While there is no perfect month or season to give birth if the parents know they are predisposed to specific health issues it can be useful to understand how their date of conception and resulting birth season might impact their future offspring.

Exercise

Physical activity plays a vital role in the health of an individual across their lifespan and alters gene expression in their offspring for several generations. Both the mother and father contribute to the gene expression in their children.

Having both parents be physically active and healthy, at time of conception, significantly increases the changes their children will have favorable gene expressions and reduced risk for chronic health conditions. Click To Tweet

Additionally, regular exercise leads to an increased build-up of microRNA (miRNA212 and miRNA132) which promotes enhanced learning ability, synaptic plasticity, and memory.

Diet & Weight

The weight and food choices of both parents also influences the future health of their children. When parents are overweight DNA methylation occurs which puts their future offspring at increased risk of being obese or developing diabetes, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure. Obese fathers run the risk of having daughters with mammary gland dysfunction and breast cancer.

The quality of food consumed leading up to conception is essential to consider. Parents that are overnourished or undernourished increase the chance that their children will become overweight or have eating disorders.

Diets high in saturated fat and sugar can cause DNA methylation of the IGF2 gene which is linked with ADHD.

Parents focused on maintaining a healthy weight while consuming whole foods can offset potential harm. Pure, whole foods contain dense nutrition which positively alters gene expression to create a thriving environment and reduce the risk of chronic health problems and neurological deficits. When we work with pre-conception planning, we focus on genetically based nutrition and bio-specific supplementation.

Delayed Gratification

Sperm takes 2 ½ to 3 weeks to fully mature on their journey from the testes to the vas deferens. During this journey, the sperm has a significant increase in small RNA payload. Sperm with high levels of small RNA are more capable of penetrating the egg and play a crucial role in preimplantation development. These small RNA’s are encoding environmental signals on the sperm that will prime the new child for the environment that it is going to come into. Studies also have shown that less mature sperm can lead to dysfunctional gene regulation in the embryo which can result in a host of health consequences for the future child.

After maturing in the voyage from the testes to the vas deferens, the sperm is stored in the vas for around 2 ½ months where it can continue to experience exposure to small RNA modifications.

The males, health and lifestyle should be optimized for 3 months prior to conception in order to encode a healthy fit signal on the sperm. Click To Tweet

Based on this information, it could be beneficial to delay ejaculations for several days before the woman is in her prime of fertility to give the best chances of successful implantation. This allows for more mature sperm, healthy coding of the sperm and higher sperm volume in the ejaculate.

Stress

Chronic stress from either parent can increase the risk of future children developing stress related disorders. Stress and trauma cause microRNA changes that impact protein necessary for positive mental health and resiliency.

These stress related microRNA alterations can be seen as far as two generations out and potentially longer.

We have seen this well-documented process occur in the generational passing of abnormal stress response in the Holocaust survivors.

Conception and the process of becoming pregnant can be stressful for some families. Couples can benefit from taking part in relaxation techniques, self-care practices, and getting adequate quality sleep. By learning to manage stress actively, parents pass along these positive gene expressions to their children.

Environmental Toxins

Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants is part of modern life. Exposure to these harmful chemicals in the air or through the skin can damage DNA.

When parents are exposed to these envirotoxins, it creates danger signals that are passed along to offspring, resulting in an increased risk for developing asthma and allergies.

There are also certain envirotoxins that can result in endocrine disruption that can be passed to your offspring. Reducing exposure where it is possible can help future parents improve their health and prevent DNA expression alterations. Pollutants can be found in cleaning products, fuel fumes, air, product packaging, and numerous other sources. While all toxins cannot be avoided, people can work to limit exposure when possible.

Conclusion

Couples planning on becoming pregnant can take measures to increase their odds of successful implantation and positive gene expression in their offspring. Every facet of life contributes to the health and expression of DNA in the egg and sperm. Taking time to educate themselves on self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are simple steps a couple can take in their pregnancy planning.

Epigenetic coaches can help couples assess personal DNA to look at their unique genetic expression and create an awareness around the actions they can implement to provide a thriving environment for their future child. A coach can also assist the couple in making lifestyle changes to improve the expression of their DNA which will carry over into the sperm and eggs for their future children.

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Daniel Stickler M.D.

Daniel L. Stickler, M.D. is the medical director and Co-Founder of Apeiron ZOH Corporation.He is the visionary pioneer behind systems-based precision performance medicine, a new paradigm that re-defines medicine from the old symptoms based disease model to one of limitless peak performance in all aspects of life. A physician to high-performing executives and entrepreneurs who want to upgrade their current state, he’s also an author, speaker, blogger and podcaster. He is a Google consultant for wearable technology, epigenetics, and AI in healthcare and a guest lecturer at Stanford University on Epigenetics in Clinical Practice.
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