Dad's looks are best. For a baby’s health, that is.
A study found that infants living with single mothers who have similar facial features to their fathers tend to be healthier after one year. That’s because a youngster who closely resembles his or her dad is more likely to spend time with him, a factor that can improve a child’s well-being.
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. These single parents were interviewed just after birth and then again just less than a year later. The information collected included the frequency of asthma attacks and the number and length of emergency room visits, according to the study published in January.
"Fathers are important in raising a child, and it manifests itself in the health of the child," Solomon Polachek, a professor at New York’s Binghamton University and one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.
"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," he added.
The analysis, which Polachek did with Marlon Tracey from Southern Illinois University, found that the single fathers spent an average of 2.5 more days per month with their babies than those who didn't resemble their offspring.
“It's been said that 'it takes a village',” Polachek concluded, “but ... having an involved father certainly helps."