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Making dads’ physical, mental health a part of the conversation much earlier

Fatherhood expert will speak on Capitol Hill June 13 about impact of fathers’ health on family

CHICAGO --- Just three days before Father’s Day (June 16), Northwestern University fatherhood expert Dr. Craig Garfield will speak about the importance of fathers’ health at a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Congressional Dads Caucus.

The Father’s Day Week of Action roundtable (11 a.m. to 12 p.m. E.T.) will be moderated by Dads Caucus Founder and Chair Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), and will feature other members of Congress, business owners, parents and advocates, including Chasten Buttigieg.

Members of the media in D.C. who would like to attend the June 13 discussion must RSVP with Katy Nystrom with Rep. Jimmy Gomez’s office at

Garfield is available to discuss various aspects of fatherhood for stories about Father’s Day. Media interested in interviewing Garfield before or after his trip can contact Kristin Samuelson at

A practicing pediatrician and researcher with over 25 years of experience and a father, Garfield will speak about his work with the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System for Dads (PRAMS for Dads survey), which he created and first piloted in Georgia in 2018.

The survey is the first-ever public health monitoring of fathers in the period from pregnancy through the first year of the infant’s life. It collects data on fathers’ physical and mental health, access to health care, use of family leave, infant engagement (safe sleep, breastfeeding) and support of mom in the immediate months after the birth. And it is inclusive — meaning the survey applies to whatever family constellation exists — same-sex, cis-gender, etc.

“Fathers are core — not peripheral — family members who help shape the health of their family,” said Garfield, professor of pediatrics and medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “Dads want to be involved but are often unsure how to be involved. As society typically focuses on the mother and child, this often leaves dads and information about their health and wellbeing out of the equation.” 

Dads help lower stress on moms, influence how children breastfeed, eat, sleep, play and form relationships. Not to mention 10% of new fathers suffer from postpartum depression, which can cause irritability and can interfere with bonding/caring for his infant and feeling disconnected from his partner. This all starts when dads first transition into fatherhood.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s PRAMS has monitored maternal health for over 35 years. But, before Garfield’s work, no such monitoring existed during the transition to fatherhood.

“We don’t know what we don’t measure, and we can’t change what we don’t know,” Garfield said. “The PRAMS for Dads survey finally provides a way to measure fathers’ health and wellbeing during the important transition to fatherhood.”

Since its successful launch in 2018, the PRAMS for Dads survey has expanded to five states (Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, North Dakota and Massachusetts), and Garfield said the goal is to expand to 30 states by 2030.

Below are some insights from the survey:

  • 70% of fathers were overweight/obese
  • 19% currently smoke, 13% binge drink and 5% use marijuana
  • 10% of fathers endorsed depressive symptoms
  • Fathers impact mom’s breastfeeding success and their baby’s safe sleep behaviors
  • Only 73% of fathers have any sort of family leave, and fewer have paid leave