Atlanta Attorney Weighs in on Birth Risks to Babies of Older Fathers
It’s common knowledge that women are likely to face reproductive risks as they get older. The same risk isn’t often recognized among men over the age of 40, according to the New York Times. Mothers ages 35 and older often receive most of the attention and screening for potential risks. In general, the health risks posed by fathers are often overlooked.
Taking paternal age into account
As the average age of couples becoming parents has gone up steadily over the past four decades, it’s time for medical professionals to take paternal age into account. In 2015, roughly nine percent of new fathers were over the age of 40 – a rate that has doubled since the 1970s.
Women typically experience risks of giving birth as early as their 30s. By their 50s, they may not be able to give birth.
“Paternal age matters” according to a recent study published in BMJ and directed by Dr. Michael L. Eisenberg, who is a urologist and head of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.
In over 40.5 million births in the United States, researchers found that babies of fathers older than 45 have a 14 percent greater chance of premature birth or low birth weight than those born to fathers in their 20s. Other risks associated with older maternal age include low Apgar scores, which measure the health of a newborn against the mortality rate, and seizures. In addition, older paternal age can put mothers at 28 percent higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
“More than 12 percent of births to fathers aged 45 years or older with adverse outcomes might have been prevented were the fathers younger,” according to Eisenberg.
Beyond birth, paternal age can play a role in future defects such as congenital diseases, psychiatric disorders, and developmental disorders. For example, a study of around 400,000 births in Israel found that babies born to fathers past the age of 40 were six times more likely to develop autism.
Identifying the risks and taking preventative measures
As men age, the quality of their sperm declines as their DNA changes. This can have a great impact on a child’s overall health and development. In addition, a man’s health begins to decline after a certain age.
“While it makes sense to delay reproduction to accommodate educational and career goals, couples should have full access to the risks and benefits of having children now or later,” said Hilary K. Brown, a reproductive public health researcher at the University of Toronto. “A man’s age has not been a typical part of the conversation.”
Brown suggests that doctors place emphasis on healthy lifestyles for both fathers and mothers in order to prevent health risks to their children. When the age of parents is considered, doctors can potentially identify the risks and take preventative measures.
If your child suffered a birth injury or developmental defect that could have been prevented, contact Tyrone Law Firm, PC today.