men's job(Photo: Getty Images)

Researchers interviewed 10,000 mothers who gave birth to children with birth defects and 4,000 who had healthy children asking about medications, exposure to chemicals, and other lifestyle choices. The findings? A link between father's professions--three months before conception to the first month of pregnancy--and specific types of birth defects.

"We have always focused on what the mother can do before she gets pregnant to increase the chances of a healthy baby, but dads have a role too," says Tania A. Desrosiers, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead researcher and epidemiologist at North Carolina Birth Defects Research and Prevention. And while researchers have not yet definitively found what causes these defects, they can speculate. See how your job could be putting you--and your kids--at risk.

If you're sitting all day . . .
Researchers found that managers, administrators, mathematicians, or other desk jobs were associated with oral clefts and abnormalities in kids' arms, legs, hands, and feet. How come? The lengthy period of time spent sitting increases the temperature of the scrotum, which then damages the sperm and could lead to birth defects, says Desrosiers. Your move: If you're on your butt all day, start a new trend in the office and Build Your Own Stand-Up Desk. Not only could being more active help out your future generation, studies have suggested that sitting for even half the day boosts your own risk of death in three years by 40 percent.

If you're in the yard a lot . . .
Outdoor jobs like those of landscapers and groundskeepers could lead to defects of the gastrointestinal system of children, say researchers. The culprit: Pesticides. Once they come into contact with your skin or are inhaled, they can damage your sperm, says Anne Steinemann, Ph.D., a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Washington. "There is no such thing as a safe pesticide. If it can kill a bug, it can damage a human," she says. Your move: Put your hat and equipment in the trunk, so you don't continue to breathe the pesticides in your car, says Jane Hoppin, Sc.D, staff scientist at the Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group. Shower off the chemicals as soon as you can and bring a towel to work, so you can wipe them off throughout the day, says Hoppin.

If you're into art . . .
Artists and photographers are more likely to put their future kids at risk for mouth, eyes and ears, gut, limbs, and heart problems, according to the study. Breathing in organic solvents--used in paints, especially oil paints--can damage your sperm too. The key: It's all about the dose you inhale, says Neal Langerman, Ph.D., officer of American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety. Cut that dose with frequent 10-minute breaks outside or in a well ventilated room, says Langerman.