They then calculated how much time the mothers and fathers spent with their children over a certain period of time. Researchers at Binghamton University in NY found that fathers are more likely to spend more time with their newborns if they look like them, and that attention from dads, specifically, can have long-term benefits.
The findings come from the long-running Fragile Family and Child Wellbeing study in the U.S., looking at the health and lives of almost 5000 children born between 1998 and 2000 to low-income and unmarried parents. "The main explanation is that frequent father visits allow for greater parental time for care-giving and supervision, and for information gathering about child health and economic needs". This is because these babies spend 2.5 days more per month with their dads compared to other children.
"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. They discovered that kids born looking like their fathers were healthier one year later. And a 2009 study reported that stepchildren and adopted children are neglected more by their caregivers overall than children are by their biological parents. In fragile families, this presence of the father goes to enhance the child's health.
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Blame biology. "Evolutionary theory predicts parents will provide preferential care to genetically related children to advance their genetic success", Dr. Polachek noted in his report.
The study says that newborns who look like their fathers are less likely to spend time in hospital or suffer from things like asthma attacks.
Meanwhile, fathers my find that investing in children that don't look like them is 'deemed wasteful since they reduce investment in genetically related offspring, ' the study said.