Paternal factors and low birthweight, preterm, and small for gestational age births: a systematic review

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Feb;202(2):103-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.08.026.


A systematic review of the risks of a low birthweight (LBW), preterm, and small-for-gestational-age births in relation to paternal factors was performed. Medline, Embase, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and bibliographies of identified articles were searched for English-language studies. Study qualities were assessed according to a predefined checklist. Thirty-six studies of low-to-moderate risk of bias were reviewed for various paternal factors: age, height, weight, birthweight, occupation, education, and alcohol use. Extreme paternal age was associated with higher risk for LBW. Among infants who were born to tall fathers, birthweight was approximately 125-150 g higher compared with infants who were born to short fathers. Paternal LBW was associated with lower birthweight of the offspring. In conclusion, paternal characteristics including age, height, and birthweight are associated with LBW. Paternal occupational exposure and low levels of education may be associated with LBW; however, further studies are needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Height
  • Educational Status
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Paternal Age
  • Paternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Premature Birth / etiology*