Testosterone drop makes dad responsive to children

Testosterone drop makes dad responsive to children

Genes affect

Testosterone drop makes dad responsive to children

Like mothers, fathers too can be biologically responsive to their children, especially when they experience a drop in testosterone levels sleeping next to their offspring.

Notre Dame University anthropologist Lee Gettler shows that close sleep proximity between fathers and children, on the same sleeping surface, results in lower testosterone compared to fathers who sleep alone.

“Human fathers' physiology has the capacity to respond to children,” Gettler says, the journal Public Library of Science ONE reports.

“Our prior research has shown that when men become fathers, their testosterone decreases, sometimes dramatically, and that those who spend the most time in hands-on care – playing with their children, feeding them or reading to them – had lower testosterone,” he adds, according to a Notre Dame statement.

“These new results complement the original research (that this decrease in testosterone helps men focus on the demands of parenthood), by taking it one step further, showing that night time closeness or proximity between fathers and their kids has effects on men's biology,” adds Gettler.

Gettler sampled 362 fathers, all of whom were aged between 25-26 years and divided them according to their reported night time sleeping location: solitary sleepers, those who slept in the same room as their children, and those fathers who slept on the same surface as their children.Fathers’ testosterone levels were measured from saliva samples collected upon waking and again just prior to sleep.

 Though the waking hormone levels of the three groups showed no significant differences, fathers who slept on the same surface as their children showed the lowest evening testosterone.

Substantial research has been conducted on the sleep and breastfeeding physiology of mother-baby co-sleeping, but this is the first study to examine how father-child sleep proximity may affect men’s physiology, and it is the first to explore the implications of co-sleeping for either mothers’ or fathers' hormones.