London: Soon-to-be dads please take note: Fatherhood is good for your health, as a new study has found that smoking, drinking and other risky behaviours drop in men with babies.
Researchers from Oregon State University in the US found that men who become dads for the first time tend to steer away from crime, tobacco and alcohol.
The researchers drew the conclusion after studying more than 200 "at-risk" boys, aged between 12 and 31, for 19 years monitoring how their antisocial behaviour changed over time.
While previous studies have shown how marriage can effect a man`s negative behaviour, this is the first to isolate the additional impact of fatherhood.
"This research suggests that fatherhood can be a transformative experience, even for men engaging in high risk behaviour," lead researcher David Kerr was quoted as saying.
Kerr added that parenthood -- in addition to adulthood -- could be seen as "an independent factor in predicting decreases in crime, alcohol and tobacco use".
The findings, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, also highlighted how men who become fathers in their late 20s and early 30s show a greater willingness to embrace fatherhood and shed negative lifestyle choices compared to men who father children in their teens.
This study supports precious research underscoring key periods when men from disadvantaged backgrounds may be ripe for intervention or rehabilitation, the researchers said.
"This presents a unique window of opportunity for intervention, because new fathers might be especially willing and ready to hear a more positive message and make behavioural changes," Kerr said. "This kind of change could have important health consequences for men and for their families."
A 2005 study by the University of Warwick had found that about 20 percent had tried to quit smoking and 4 percent succeeded in doing so since the birth of their baby. It had also found that about 60 percent had successfully achieved not smoking in the home.