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.
Researchers took a look at single-mother families, based on previous studies that have suggested that kids who live with single moms are more likely to have poorer health, Tech Times reports. For example, a study in 2008 found that infants born to unmarried parents are at a higher risk for developing asthma.
Solomon Polachek from Binghamton University and colleagues examined data from 715 single moms and babies in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, and found one factor that could potentially improve infant health. They discovered that kids born looking like their fathers were healthier one year later. This is because these babies spend 2.5 days more per month with their dads compared to other children.
These findings suggest that the father-child resemblance can motivate dads to spend more time with their kids, thus engaging in positive parenting. The researchers said that frequent visits from fathers who don’t live with their kids can impact their offspring’s health. Polachek said,
Frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for caregiving and supervision, and for information gathering about child health and economic needs.
A baby’s resemblance to his or her father serves as a visual clue for male parents that the child is theirs, spurring them to spend more time with the kid, Polachek explained. The study says, “The idea is that, due to paternity uncertainty, a man assesses genetic relatedness based on whether the child resembles him and uses this information to direct investment resources to the child. This data is appropriate since paternity uncertainty is more likely to prevail among fragile families.”
The study was published in the Journal of Health Economics.