These risks increase as the man ages.
A decade-long study by Stanford University’s Medical research team has revealed that men over the age of 35 pose a number of increased health risks for both infants and mothers during and after pregnancy.
With many modern-day couples using their 20’s to travel or focus on their careers, many are having children at a later age. ABS data shows that between 1996 and 2016, the median age of mothers in Australia grew from 29.2 years to 31.2 years, and the median age of fathers went from 30.6 years to 33.9 years.
However, Stanford’s research suggests that this rising parental age brings with it some major health concerns.
The data, which was taken from over 40 million US pregnancies over the course of 10 years, suggests that older fathers heighten the chances of health problems such as low birth weight, seizures, congenital diseases, and the need for post-birth health care support in babies, and an increased risk of diabetes in mothers.
The research suggests that the older the father, the greater the chance of these health issues arising.
For every year a man ages after the age of 35, an average of 2 new DNA mutations develop in his sperm.
When compared to infants born to fathers aged 25-34, infants born to men older than 45 were shown to be 14% more likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, 18% more likely to have seizures and 14% more likely to be premature.
Babies born to men older than 50 were shown to be 28% more likely to require treatment from the neonatal intensive care unit after birth.
The study shows that there needs to be a greater awareness of paternal health factors when assessing infant and maternal health, as well as considering the age and health of conceiving women.
“We tend to look at maternal factors in evaluating associated birth risks, but this study shows that having a healthy baby is a team sport, and the father’s age contributes to the baby’s health, too,” said MD Michael Eisenberg, associate professor of urology.
With regards to maternal health, the biggest health issue posed by older-aged fathers was the risk of the mother developing diabetes during her pregnancy.
Women whose partners were over 45 proved 28% more likely to develop gestational diabetes when compared with fathers who were between the ages of 25 and 34.
Last year Eisenberg conducted a study which showed that 10 percent of infants born in the US are fathered by men over the age of 40, a 6% increase over the last four decades.
So, with a number of older fathers on the rise, paternal health is going to become an increasingly prevalent concern in the coming years.
The study will hopefully bring a greater understanding of the significance of paternal health in pregnancy and childbirth, and encourage further studies into the impacts of parental age on pregnancy.
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