Sunday, June 01, 2008

Older fathers - Higher risk of death for children

As men get older, the quality of their sperm declines. This means any children born of older men have a higher chance of having some sort of congenital defect and therefore lesser chances of survival. Another argument for having children when one is still young.
Children are almost twice as likely to die before adulthood if they have a father over 45, research has shown. A mass study found that deaths of children fathered by over-45s occurred at almost twice the rate of those fathered by men aged between 25 and 30. Scientists believe that children of older fathers are more likely to suffer particular congenital defects as well as autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. A total of 100,000 children born between 1980 and 1996 were examined, of whom 830 have so far died before they reached 18, the majority when they were less than a year old.

The deaths of many of the children of the older fathers were related to congenital defects such as problems of the heart and spine, which increase the risk of infant mortality. But there were also higher rates of accidental death, which the researchers believe might be explained by the increased likelihood of suffering from autism, epilepsy or schizophrenia.

Most research into older parents has, until now, focused on the risks passed on by older mothers. But the new study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, was adjusted to take account of maternal age and socio-economic differences. (More Here: Telegraph)

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