Babies who look like their dad tend to be healthier, study finds

Two chubby babies sitting

"We find a child's health indicators improve when the child looks like the father..."

Babies who look like their dads upon being born are apparently more likely to spend more time with their fathers, making them healthier by the time they celebrate their first birthdays, compared to kids who do not look like their dads, a new study says.

"Those fathers that perceive the baby's resemblance to them are more certain the baby is theirs, and thus spend more time with the baby", said Dr. Polachek. According to Solomon Polachek, economics professor at Binghamton University and co-author of the study, fathers who thought their baby resembled them are more certain of their paternity, and so spend more time with them.

He then uses this information to determine how much he wants to invest in the child's health and well-being.

They found that infants that looked like their fathers tended to have their fathers around more often than those that did not resemble their fathers.

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This area of research shows the importance of encouraging absent fathers to spend more time with their babies, the researchers said. Polachek worked with Marlon Tracey from Southern Illinois University looking at data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study.

The research, titled "If looks could heal: Child health and paternal investment" and published in the Journal of Health Economics, looked at 715 mothers and fathers who did not live together.

The study suggests that the extra time and the better bond obtains benefits, including asthma attacks and fewer health care visits.

The researchers said that frequent visits from fathers who don't live with their kids can impact their offspring's health.

"It's been said that "it takes a village", Polachek concluded, "but. having an involved father certainly helps". The researchers said that greater efforts could be made to encourage these fathers to frequently engage with their children through parenting classes, health education and job-training to enhance earnings.