Why Kids Who Look Like Their Dads Are Actually Healthier

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Babies Who Look Like This Parent Are Healthier, Says Science

Who doesn't want a healthy baby?

All parents would agree that a healthy baby is a happy baby (and happy family in general), and now, according to new research, babies who look like Dad when born tend to be healthier than those who take on Mom's traits. 

Yep, it's true!

The research, conducted by Solomon Polachek, Research Professor of Economics at Binghamton University and Marlon Tracey from Southern Illinois University, focused on 715 families in which the babies only lived with their mothers. The researchers analyzed the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study and found that the babies who looked more like their father at birth were actually healthier one year later than those who favored their mother. The study suggests that fathers that resembled their children spent more time with them versus the fathers who didn't — an average of two and a half more days, to be be exact.

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According to the study, researchers found that infants that were born out of wedlock and who look like their father at birth (as determined by both parents in separate interviews) are healthier on their first birthday. They determined that when babies resemble the father, fathers typically spend more time with the child (two and a half days more on average) which helps the baby's overall well-being.

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"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," Dr. Polachek explained. "Fathers are important in raising a child, and it manifests itself in the health of the child."

Evolutionary sociobiology backs up this theory, showing that the father-child resemblance encourages paternal time-investment. However there was basically no evidence to support other potential mechanisms such as a father's economic provision, his involvement in shared parenting, or maternal parenting. 

Dr. Polachek explained the studies results further, stating, "We find a child's health indicators improve when the child looks like the father. The main explanation is that frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for caregiving and supervision, and for information gathering about child health and economic needs. It's been said that 'it takes a village' but my coauthor, Marlon Tracey, and I find that having an involved father certainly helps."

While we know how important a paternal role is when it comes to raising a child, the results of the study suggest that the role of a father figure in a child's development is even more important than people can imagine. The study hopes to encourage fathers to engage more in their children's lives and realize the major role they play in their child's growth and well-being. 

So to all the dads out there, spend as much time as possible with your children. Even if they don't look exactly like you, you getting that one-on-one bonding time with them is essential to their health and their happiness.

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Brittany White is a writer and a collector of crystals, moon trinkets, and mystery books. When she's not writing for YourTango, you can find her obsessing over scary movies (with the exception of Freddy Krueger, of course).