Health Risks in Babies with Older Fathers
A study in the US has found that babies born to men aged 45 or over are more at risk of health issues immediately after birth than babies whose fathers are younger.
It found that older fathers’ babies are more likely to be born prematurely, have a seizure and need intensive care treatment immediately after being born.
The study, the results of which have been published in the British Medical Journal, involved researchers analysing births in the US between 2007 and 2016, categorising them according to the father’s age (younger than 25; 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 54; 55 or older), and then looking at whether there were any health issues at birth.
Issues that were recorded included premature births, low birth weight, the baby being admitted to an intensive care unit, the baby needing antibiotics, and the baby having seizures.
Over 40 million births were looked at. Overall, the study found that the risks increased when the father was 35 or over, and the risks were even higher in babies of fathers aged 45 or over.
Compared with fathers between the ages of 25 and 34, babies born to men aged 45 and over were 18% more likely to have seizures; 14% more likely to be admitted to intensive care shortly after birth; 14% more likely to be born prematurely; and 14% more likely to have a low birth weight.
If the father was 50 or older, the likelihood that the child would need ventilation once born increased by 10% and the likelihood that they would need to be admitted to the intensive care unit increased by 28%.
A surprising finding from the study was that for men aged 45 or over, the mothers of the babies were 28% more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy, when compared with fathers aged between 25 and 34.
Increasing paternal age
Michael Eisenberg, one of the researchers, said: “While it is important to note that the absolute risk of advancing paternal age on adverse perinatal conditions remains modest, our findings emphasise the need to further investigate the public health implications of increasing paternal age.
“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.”
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