First-Time Dads Are Getting Older – But Are There Risks?
New dads are getting older and older these days.
Researchers at Stanford University reviewed data on 168,867,480 live births from 1972 to 2015, and found that the average age of the father of a newborn in the United States is 30.9 years old.
For comparison, the average age in 1972 was 27.4 years old.
And the United States isn’t the only country seeing this trend, the New York Times reports. In Germany, the median age of new fathers increased from 31.3 to 33.1 in the 1990s. England saw the same thing happen as well—in 2003, dads over 35 years old accounted for 40 percent of all births in the country, as opposed to 25 percent just 10 years earlier.
So what exactly does this mean for fathers and their newborns?
In 2016, Men’s Health reported that the average 30-year-old dad passes on about 55 genetic mutations to his offspring, and each year you age increases that number by two.
Not all of these mutations cause health problems, but some can cause trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.
There is also an increased risk of having a child with achondroplasia—a type of dwarfism—that rises from 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 1,923 once men reach age 50. And the risk of having a child with schizophrenia more than quadruples with fathers over 50 years old.
Once a guy hits 40 years old, autism rates rise from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 174. And unfortunately, cancer rates among children also tend to rise too as their dads get older as well.
In fact, men who are genetically predisposed to any of these conditions are more likely to delay fatherhood, and the tendency seems to be genetically inherited by their children as well, although there is still more research to be done on this front.
But don’t let these statistics scare you into not having kids once you hit a certain age. Doctors can screen your sperm for DNA mutations, or you can go the IVF route and use a technique called reimplantation genetic diagnosis to test each embryo for genetic diseases before it’s implanted into the woman’s womb. You also can talk to a genetic counsellor to figure out the best option for you.
Additional reporting by Cindy Kuzma
Originally published on menshealth.com