A 2001 Canadian study found that men’s testosterone levels tend to plummet during the first few months following the birth of a first child. Even more intriguing, some men start to produce extra estrogen, perhaps the clearest sign of the transformative power of fatherhood. According to Diane Witt, a neuroscientist with the National Science Foundation, “estrogen helps make the brain more sensitive to oxytocin, presumably helping fathers become more loving and attentive.” Despite scientific data, not all men develop an instant bond with their newborn child. “Not being home during the day with my new baby and not being able to nurse him made me feel like an outsider in my own family,” says Alberto Leonardi of Manila. A 2000 study conducted by the University of Oxford found that about three percent of fathers exhibited signs of depression after the birth of a child. The same study indicated that approximately 10.2 percent of mothers experienced symptoms and feelings of postpartum depression. British researchers headed by psychiatrist Paul Ramchandani, M.D., of the University of Oxford, recently released a report that paternal postpartum depression can impact a child’s early behavior. In the report published in The Lancet medical journal, baby boys were especially affected by depressed dads and have twice as many behavioral problems in their early years than children whose fathers did not experience postpartum depression. “Our findings indicate that paternal depression has a specific and persisting detrimental effect on their children’s early behavioral and emotional development,” Dr. Ramchandani noted in his findings.
Carrie Brown, child abuse prevention specialist and mother of two; Denver, Colorado
Jackie Keller, nutrition and fitness consultant to postpartum celebrities, author of Body After Baby: A Simple, Healthy Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight
Diane Witt, neuroscientist, National Science Foundation
Alberto Leonardi, father from manila
Paul Ramchandani, M.D.; researcher; University of Oxford