Much of the focus regarding MTHFR and infertility is around women’s nutrition. Today, however, we have an exciting guest post from Australian Naturopath, Carolyn Ledowsky, which reminds us of the very important fact that men matter too! Please note that this blog is open on an ongoing basis to health professionals who would like to share their knowledge with others about MTHFR and MTHFR-related wellness topics. Please read about the guest post program to learn more.
I’m in the throes of researching for my new online preconception course and have come across some powerful new research on the MTHFR gene, recurrent pregnancy loss and the male partner’s role in this serious condition.
And while each partner plays an equal role in fertility, I’d love a dollar for each woman that I see for fertility with a male partner at home believing preconception care isn’t something he needs to worry about or be involved in.
The DNA of your future child is 50 percent male and female right?
A new study completed at the end of 2015 highlights the importance of the dad’s MTHFR gene status when it comes to miscarriage risk.
This review analyzed over 25,000 mums, dads and bubs and looked at the relationship between the mums’ MTHFR status, dads’ MTHFR status and the babies’ MTHFR status. Results showed BOTH the MTHFR C677T and the A1298C gene in the mum AND dad were associated with recurrent pregnancy Loss (RPL).
Interestingly there was a higher percentage of miscarriage when the baby had a homozygous A1298C mutation, making the dad’s MTHFR status just as important as mum’s. In fact the researchers concluded that they found “a significant association between paternal MTHFR C677T and A1298C polymorphisms and RPL.”
We all know how devastating a miscarriage can be, particularly when couples experience them repeatedly. RPL, which involves more than two miscarriages in a row before the 20-week mark, affects one to five percent of couples worldwide.
So what do we take out from this new study?
We take note!
Both our potential mum and dad need to be tested for the MTHFR gene months prior to trying to fall pregnant. This review shows us that if a baby is homozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation there is a higher risk of miscarriage, particularly with the A1298C variant.
Both mum and dad need to be taking prenatal supplements to ensure optimal folate levels. Remember that folate is what ensures you have good DNA and provides the key ingredient to ensure a fetus develops in the early stages. So there is no point in just the woman taking folate because the DNA in the sperm is just as susceptible to damage from low folate levels as the woman’s egg.
Low folate is associated with:
- Neural Tube Defects like Spina bifida
- Low sperm quality
- Clotting disorders that affect the nutrients going from mum to the baby via the placenta
- Low birth rate
- Down syndrome
- Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL – as we are talking about today)
So is it worth the risk? Why is this even a debate? Why doesn’t the general medical community just say ok, I’m taking note of the new study and I’m going to switch what I’m going to give my patients with the MTHFR gene? Is it political? Is it because the suppliers of folic acid are pushing back? I hope not.
So what can you do?
Primarily, ensure both partners are tested and supplement with active folate in prenatal/ fertility formulas for a healthy preconception period before attempting to conceive.
For those doctors out there that say to you there is no association between the A1298C and miscarriage risk, please send them the link to this paper, which is at the bottom of the page.
For those doctors that tell you to take folic acid, then YOU will need to educate them, as this is the question I seem to be asked most. “I know that I shouldn’t be taking folic acid but how do I tell my doctor that?”
Here is a paper that I wrote last year on the difference between folic and methylfolate. It has the references in it so you can download it and give it to your doctor.
But basically the message is not that folic acid doesn’t work, but that it’s synthetic, man made and has no metabolic activity in the body until the body processes it. So if you have issues with processing then it’s going to be underutilized and build up.
Also the folate receptor sitting on the surface of the cell will prefer to bind to folic acid, so keeping out our good folate from food. Why would we use something that’s not biologically active when we have other options? 5-MTHF, the active folate, will bypass any MTHFR gene mutation and supply the important methyl groups we need to help our cells get this active folate. In preconception there really should be no argument here.
What never ceases to amaze me is how much research people with the MTHFR gene have had to do. You are the ones driving this change, not the doctors, not the specialists – your need to know more and ask questions are what is driving this increase in awareness and change in folate.
So keep up the good work. Keep searching and we’ll keep giving you the ammunition you need.
If you would like to learn more, you can join my FREE course on the top 10 tips on how to prepare for pregnancy with MTHFR by clicking here.
About Carolyn Ledowsky, ND
Carolyn Ledowsky is a MTHFR expert and founder of MTHFR Support Australia, a clinic dedicated to supporting those with MTHFR and methylation related disturbances. She holds a Bachelor of Herbal Medicine, Bachelor of Naturopathy and Diploma of Nutrition, having also studied courses in genetics at Duke University and The University of Maryland.
She is a regular speaker at MTHFR events and provides both patient and practitioner training through her many webinars, presentations and on-line learning environments. You can join one of her weekly ‘MTHFR in Preconception’ webinars by clicking here.
Carolyn now sees patients with MTHFR mutations and/or associated methylation disturbances, which then go on to affect fertility, thyroid, adrenals, hormones, detoxification, energy and neurotransmitters. Her expertise is in understanding these highly complex biochemical pathways, and how individual genetic presentations give rise to dysfunction is her main focus.
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