This survey is modeled on the annual surveillance tool that the CDC and public health departments have used for the past 35 years for new mothers called PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System).
“Having a reliable source of information to see how men are impacted by the transition to fatherhood is an important first step in understanding how best to support families and children today,” said Dr. Garfield, lead author on the study and founder of the Family & Child Health Innovations Program (FCHIP).
Nearly 20 percent reported smoking, 13 percent were binge drinking and 10 percent had depressive symptoms since their infant’s birth.
These data, especially in combination with data from mothers, offer a roadmap of where we need to focus attention to improve the health and wellbeing of families during pregnancy and after a child is born.
Researchers need partners on the state level who can secure funding and implement this surveillance for dads in their state.
Equally important on the national level, just as we have had decades of federal funding to track the health of new mothers.
Legislative will be needed to build the public health infrastructure to track and respond to the needs of new dads, to help them truly be there for their child and family.
Previous research has linked fathers’ involvement to improved maternal and infant health, including longer breastfeeding duration, lower levels of maternal depression, earlier prenatal care initiation, higher utilization of postnatal care services, and improved child developmental, psychological, and cognitive outcomes.
Studies also have revealed that men often view the birth of their child as a lever for change in their health habits.
Focusing on the role of fathers in the health of children and families, Dr. Garfield launched in 2020 the Family & Child Health Innovations Program (FCHIP) at Lurie Children’s.
The FCHIP team conducts research, disseminates clinically relevant findings, and advocates for improvements in family health policy.