Posted by: Ticktock | June 4, 2008

Centrum Silver Dads Beware!

People are waiting longer and longer to have a baby these days.

Last year, a 90 year old indian farmer named Nanu Ram Jogi unbelievably fired off a viril salvo to father his 21st child, and he doesn’t plan on stopping until he’s 100.  Wow.  I was beginning to wonder how India developed one of the largest populations in the world… weighing in at a billion poor/starving citizens.

Well, a new study may be striking some fear in older fathers who are expecting a child.  Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and The School of Public Health at the University of California in Los Angeles have crunched the numbers on 100,000 Danish children living over the past 20 years. The results of their retrospective analysis showed that the children of fathers older than age 45 were statistically twice as likely to have an early death compared to the children of younger dads.

This retrospective cohort study reveals an awful dataset that does little to help older dads.  Now these folks have two things to fear:  their own death and now their child’s death too.  But, it’s important information that deserves attention, whether we are happy to learn it or not.  So, for the sake of parenting science, let’s ignore the creepy feelings that come from analyzing child death rates and look at the details.

Why are these kids dying?  The study divided the deaths into five categories:  perinatal (childbirth), congenital malformation, ill-defined, injury or poisoning, or from other diseases.  The two reasons for death that stood out in the data for children of older fathers were congenital malformation (birth defects) and injury or poisoning.  Researchers think the accidental injury and poisoning can be connected to the higher incidence of autism, schyzophrenia, and epilepsy.  The congenital malformations arise because older fathers are more likely to have degenerate sperm; they are four times more likely to have a child with Down’s Syndrome.

Older mothers are even more at risk of having genetically problematic children.  The chances of Down’s Syndrome go up to 1 in 100 for women 40 and older, and the incidence of miscarriage is also much higher in older mothers.

Have all variables been factored in this study?  Dr. Jin Liang Zhu accounted for several factors including: the age of the mother, socioeconomic factors, number of siblings, parent’s education, country of origin, year, and level of healthcare (which is FREE in Denmark).  There may be unadjusted lifestyle patterns that explain the results, maternal health wasn’t factored, reduced fertility may be confounding the results, and the small number of child deaths during the time period (less than 1% of all represented) provided a small sample size.  This last variable I think is where this study can be misleading because the way that the press reports the findings will make it seem that babies of older parents are dropping like flies.

There’s little that can be done about it.  Older pregnant mothers are encouraged to test for birth defects, but sperm quality testing is not an option for older men yet.  Like anything, there are risks involved with being an older parent.  There are plenty of older parents, however, who are living happy lives with healthy children.  And just to cap off this post with a callback, I’ll show you the oldest  mother — Adriana Iliescu of Bucharest.  This lady is 70 years old, and her child Eliza (who looks adorable) is only three.

Hey Adriana, there’s a farmer in India I want to introduce you to!

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Responses

  1. […] rather surprised that this is news.  Only a month ago, I wrote about how children of older Dads were dying more frequently due largly to their genetic […]

  2. […] science shows that elderly fathers have babies who die earlier.  Then, science reveals that those same teethless […]

  3. […] might not be the best idea; those babies turn out to have a higher risk of bipolar disorder and early death.  The latest news is equally unpromising for senior citizen dads – their kids have a higher risk […]


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