There is no clearly accepted definition of advanced paternal age, but a frequently used criterion is any man aged 40 years or older at the time of conception. Over the last four decades, the number of men older than 40 years old who father a child has more than doubled. However, only recently have researchers begun to look into the possible impact a father’s age may have on his child. If you are of advanced paternal age and are considering becoming a father, there are some important details that you should become aware of in order to make safe and educated decisions.
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Studies have shown that when a man becomes a father over the age of 40, there may be a slight increase in the risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes or risks to a child’s health, such as:
- Rare birth defects: Advanced paternal age can increase the risk of certain rare birth defects such as defects in the development of the limbs, skull, and heart.
- Pregnancy loss: Older paternal age may be associated with a small increase in the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Autism: Research has shown a link between older paternal age and an increased frequency of children with autism spectrum disorder.
- Schizophrenia: Older paternal age may increase the risk of schizophrenia, according to studies.
- Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Older paternal age may be associated with a slight increase in the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
If you are an older man who is considering becoming a father, be sure to ask your physician the necessary questions to ensure you fully understand the risks associated. Some common questions may include:
Along with advanced age, diet, weight, and exercise levels may contribute to the health of a potential child. Because of this, a thorough checkup is helpful to identify any possible concerns.
It may be worth having a semen analysis to ensure that everything is working normally. For men who learn they have a low sperm count, fertility assistance sooner rather than later may be ideal.
Be sure to be honest and upfront about smoking, alcohol intake, illicit drug use, or other factors that may negatively impact your fertility. Also, share your full medication list with your doctor, as some drugs can affect fertility.
While there are some risks associated with being an older father, men will continue to produce sperm throughout their lives and can father healthy children into old age.
Becoming a father at an older age can be associated with certain risks. To meet with Dr. Houman and learn more regarding advanced paternal age, contact our office by calling (310) 854-7822 or filling out our online form.
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Dr. Justin Houman is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Urologist and Men’s Health specialist whose mission is to enhance men’s quality of life by improving their sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Houman’s focus is on making a difference in people’s lives through state-of-the-art, compassionate, and personally tailored care.
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