THURSDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Men are less likely to
drink, use tobacco or commit crimes after they become fathers,
according to a long-term study.
It included more than 200 at-risk males who were assessed
annually from ages 12 to 31.
Previous studies have found that marriage can reduce men's
negative behavior, but they did not examine the additional effects
This study found that fatherhood was independently associated
with reduced crime, alcohol and tobacco use. It also found that men
who had their first child in their late 20s or early 30s had
greater decreases in crime and alcohol use than those who had their
first child in their early 20s.
This may be because older men are more able or willing to
welcome fatherhood and change negative behaviors, the researchers
The fatherhood-related decreases in negative behavior "were in
addition to the general tendency of boys to engage less in these
types of behaviors as they approach and enter adulthood," lead
author David Kerr, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon
State University, said in a university news release.
The findings, published in a recent issue of the
Journal of Marriage and Family, add to overall research identifying critical times when men are open to changing bad habits.
"This research suggests that fatherhood can be a transformative experience, even for men engaging in high-risk behavior," Kerr 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 behavioral changes."
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more