No matter what their age, women are often reminded of their biological clock and are warned about the complications of late pregnancies.
But because they don’t go through a menopause, men aren’t always told to be mindful of their fertility and how it’s affected by ageing.
Research shows, however, that men should be aware of their biological clock as having a child later can increase the risk of complications.
A new study, published in the journal Maturitas, said that men should bank their sperm around the age of 35 as women are encouraged to freeze their eggs.
Rutgers University researchers looked at the effect of parental age on fertility, pregnancy and the health of children over a 40-year study and found that men’s biological clock starts ticking in their 30s too.
Older dads were found to have babies with a higher risk of premature birth, late stillbirth, low birth weight, higher incidence of newborn seizures and birth defects such as congenital heart disease and cleft palate.
But the co-author of the research, Professor Gloria Bachmann said the medical profession has no clear agreed definition of when ‘advanced paternal age’ begins, with the range being from 35 to 45.
‘While it’s widely accepted physiological changes that occur in women after 35 can affect conception, pregnancy and the health of the child, most men do not realise their advanced age can have a similar impact,’ she said.
‘While women tend to be more aware and educated than men about their reproductive health, most men do not consult with physicians unless they have a medical or fertility issue.’
The study found that men 45 and older can experience decreased fertility and put their partners at risk of increased pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth.
As children with old dads grow, they were found to have an increased likelihood of childhood cancers, psychiatric and cognitive disorders, and autism.
Professor Bachman added that just as muscles lose strength as we get older, sperms lose their ‘fitness’, affecting their quality.
She encouraged doctors to advise male patients too about conception, pregnancy and the health of their child.
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