Older men have an increased risk of having a child with abnormalities, new research suggests. Old research suggests this too
Irish Health Headlines
Birth Defects Higher Among Children with Older Fathers
Older men have an increased risk of having a child with abnormalities, new research suggests.
The common belief is that there is no age limit for men when it comes to fathering a child. Unlike women who undergo menopause, men do not have a fixed “andropause”. However, this view is being challenged as new evidence shows that the rates of birth defects such as achondroplasia (short stature) and autism is higher among children with older fathers.
A recent study carried out at a large Israeli army database found that children of men over 40 were 5.75 times more likely to have an autism disorder than those who had fathers under 30. Another Israeli study suggested that the risk of schizophrenia in children is almost double if the father is in his late 40s.
Prof Sheena Lewis, a consultant in reproductive medicine at Queen's University Belfast, said that as men get older their sperm DNA becomes more fragmented. By the time a man is 50, the cells that create a man’s sperm have replicated up to 800 times, creating many possibilities for error.
According to Prof Lewis: