Researchers from Binghampton University, State University of New York and Southern Illinois University recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of Health Economics, to determine factors that may play a role in the health of children from single-family households.
To do so, they examined 715 infants who lived with their mothers only. They then calculated how much time the mothers and fathers spent with their children over a certain period of time.
After analyzing the results, they found that babies who looked like their fathers were healthier at age one. Additionally, those who favored their fathers spend 2.5 more days per month with their father, compared to those who did not look like their father.
"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," lead author Solomon Polachek said in a statement. "Fathers are important in raising a child, and it manifests itself in the health of the child."
The scientists believe their findings prove that more time spent with the father enhances a child’s overall health, especially for those in “fragile families,” they said.
“We find a child’s health indicators improve when the child looks like the father ... 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,” Polachek added. “It’s been said that ‘it takes a village’ but ... having an involved father certainly helps.”