Feto-infant health and survival: does paternal involvement matter?

Matern Child Health J. 2010 Nov;14(6):931-7. doi: 10.1007/s10995-009-0531-9.


Lack of paternal involvement during pregnancy and infancy may account for a significant burden of the adverse pregnancy outcomes among black women and could therefore, represent an important avenue providing the opportunity to improve feto-infant health and survival. This study aimed to review the literature on paternal involvement during the perinatal period and its influence on feto-infant health and survival. Literature for this review was identified by searching the PubMed database from the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the US National Library of Medicine as well as the ISI Web of Knowledge Databases, OVID, and CINAHL. A total of seven papers were identified and included in this review. There is paucity of data in this domain. Overall findings suggest that paternal involvement during pregnancy may have important implications for maternal prenatal health behaviors and feto-infant health. Although results are limited, results suggest that paternal involvement has a positive influence on prenatal care usage, abstinence from alcohol and smoking, and a reduction in low birth weight and small for gestational age infants. None of the papers examined the relationship between stillbirth and paternal involvement. Additional studies with enhanced measures of paternal involvement are needed to better assess the role of fathers in enhancing prenatal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes. Efforts should be made to include fathers in future studies and reduce reliance on maternal report and to investigate paternal roles across different racial groups so that appropriate interventions can be developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Fetal Mortality*
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Morbidity
  • Paternity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prenatal Care