Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Data Converges About Older Fathers

Data Converges About Older Fathers
A recent post in the New York Times presents some evidence that men who become fathers at a later age have unhealthier children. It is well recognized that men retain their reproductive potential longer, and lose it in a more gradual manner, than do women. Whereas women's fertility declines sharply after age 35 or so, men retain their ability to father children, albeit to a diminished degree, for several decades longer. Recently, some evidence has been presented in the scientific literature that suggests that children conceived with sperm from an older male may have cognitive or psychological challenges compared to those fathered by younger males. A recent study performed by Australian scientists concluded that older dads have children with slightly lower IQs. Others have shown increased rates of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism in children fathered by older vs. younger men. This evidence suggests that men are susceptible to age-related effects on reproductive ability. This should not surprise anyone. However, the effects of reproductive ageing appear to be expressed differently in males than in females. Dr. Dolores Malaspina, a professor of psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, puts it this way: “It turns out the optimal age for being a mother is the same as the optimal age for being a father.”



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