Older fathers associated with increased birth risks
Birth risks are often associated with maternal factors, but fathers contribute to a baby’s health too. A new study by scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found that babies with older fathers are prone to increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures.
The researchers used data from 40.5 million live births documented through a data-sharing program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics in the United States. The researchers organised the information based on the fathers’ age — younger than 25; 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 55; and older than 55. The information was controlled for various factors that might affect the link between a father’s age and birth outcomes such as race, education level, marital status, smoking history, access to care and the mother’s age.
If the father was 50 years or older then there was a 10 per cent increase in the likelihood of their infant needing ventilation.
The researchers found a slight increase in birth risks once the fathers reached the age of 35 but the birth risks increased sharply for infants born to fathers of the subsequent age groups. The average age of paternity in the United States is between the ages of 25 and 34 and when comparing children born to fathers in this age group with infants born to men 45 years or older, the researchers found babies with older fathers were 14 per cent more likely to be admitted to the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, 14 per cent more likely to be born prematurely, 18 per cent more likely to have seizures and 14 per cent more likely to have a low birth weight. If the father was 50 years or older then there was a 10 per cent increase in the likelihood of their infant needing ventilation and a 28 per cent increase in assistance needed from the neonatal intensive care unit. There was also a link between the father’s advanced age of 45 years and older and a 28 per cent chance that the mother could develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy compared to fathers between 25 and 34 years old. But this link is still unclear and the researchers suspect that the mother’s placenta may have a role to play in it.
According to the researchers, with every year that a man ages, he accumulates an average of two mutations in the DNA of his sperm and that has an effect on the birth risks and birth outcomes of his baby. This study provides vital information for couples who want to have children when accounting for the health of their baby.
Source: Stanford Medicine
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