Women might not be the only ones who have biological clocks. While further research is needed, studies suggest that a man's age at the time of conception — also known as his paternal age — might pose health risks for his children.
For example, studies have associated advanced paternal age with:
- Miscarriage. Some research suggests that women who become pregnant by older men are at slightly higher risk of miscarriage.
- Autism. Children born to men 40 and older seem to be more likely to develop autism than children of men younger than 30.
- Birth defects. Although the overall risk is exceedingly low, older men are more likely to father babies who have certain rare birth defects — such as the bone growth disorder achondroplasia.
- Schizophrenia. Children born to men 50 and older seem to be more likely to develop the brain disorder schizophrenia than children of men younger than 25.
- Cognitive impairment. In a 2009 study, children born to older men scored slightly lower on tests measuring concentration, memory, reading and reasoning skills through age 7.
Researchers believe that the increased risk of health conditions might be due to age-related genetic mutations in older men. Despite the increase in these risks, however, the overall risks remain small and less certain than those associated with advanced maternal age.
If you're older than 40 and you're considering fathering a baby or you're concerned about your reproductive health, consult your doctor.
Jun. 27, 2012
See more Expert Answers
- Kleinhaus K, et al. Paternal age and spontaneous abortion. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2006;108:369.
- Reichenberg A, et al. Advancing paternal age and autism. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2006;63:1026.
- Shelton JF, et al. Independent and dependent contributions of advanced maternal and paternal ages to autism risk. Autism Research. 2010;3:30.
- Saha S, et al. Advanced paternal age is associated with impaired neurocognitive outcomes during infancy and childhood. PLoS Medicine. 2009;6:1.
- De Souza E, et al. Case-control analysis of paternal age and trisomic anomalies. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2010;95:893.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed April 12, 2012.
- Liu K, et al. Advanced reproductive age and fertility. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. 2011;33:1165.
- Shah PS, et al. Paternal factors and low birthweight, preterm, and small for gestational age births: A systematic review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010;202:103.
- Durkin MS, et al. Advanced paternal age and the risk of autism spectrum disorder. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2008;168:1268.
- Torrey EF, et al. Paternal age as a risk factor for schizophrenia: How important is it? Schizophrenia Research. 2009;114:1.
- Parner ET, et al. Paternal age and autism spectrum disorders. Annals of Epidemiology. 2012;22:143.
- Harris ID, et al. Effect of advanced paternal age on fertility and pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 12, 2012.
- Sipos A, et al. Paternal age and schizophrenia: A population based cohort study. British Medical Journal. 2004;329:1070.
- Malaspina D. Advancing paternal age and the risk of schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2001;58:361.
- Croen LA, et al. Maternal and paternal age and risk of autism spectrum disorders. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2007;161:334.