Risks Associated With Being An Old Dad?

An odd title for a post eh? I had never heard anything like this, so let me explain. Here’s what happened…

I recently had a chat with a young lady about being an older dad. She works for a TV company and came across this blog while doing an online search for “older fathers”. She has been doing some research, trying to find out some of the reasons why there are now (apparently) a lot more older dads in Australia. Almost like it is becoming a trend? (you may well ask). Maybe. But this was just a part of what she was trying to ascertain. 

The TV company is interested in making a current affairs/news article about the rise in older fathers. No doubt this was spurred on by the recent news that actor Robert De Niro has fathered a child at the age of 79. Coincidentally the age my own father would be if he were still alive. It’s hard to imagine that. Having a new born brother or sister at my age! It would seem very odd, especially initially. I am sure my boy Daniel would think that would be fantastic. Having an uncle/auntie who was nearly 10 years younger than himself. He would end up babysitting for them in a few years… But all jokes aside there is a serious side to all this as I have tried to point out in certain posts, and certainly my initial thoughts when I started this blog. 

I Had Never Heard Anything About This

One of the questions I was asked was whether I had heard of the health risks for the child of an older father. I had not. But it does seem to be a real thing… Read on…

I suppose the first and most obvious question is: Why hadn’t I heard of this before?

The short answer is: I have no idea! Naturally I had heard of the risks for both mother and child when an older woman is pregnant. We all have right? It’s just old mother nature doing her thing. It is also why women cannot get pregnant after a certain age (not fixed of course). When it comes to procreating, women have a definite body clock thing going on, which men do not. This – as far as I always thought – was common knowledge. Perhaps less well known, although still widely acknowledged, is that there are risks for the child when the mother is “older”. 

 But what about the risks for the unborn/newborn child if the father is older? 

I decided to do some research (so that you don’t have to). So here are a few links to articles about this subject if you want to learn more…

You can find out a little more about this subject here, here, here and here… (And of course there will be lots more if you want to really delve deep.)

I soon discovered that this is not a new idea or recent subject of medical research. What is interesting is that it is not widely known or talked about – at least that is how it seems to me. Even the TV researcher admitted that she was previously unaware of the potential dangers associated with having an older father. 

Is It True?

First of all, thankfully, none of this has been the case for my boy. He is (touch wood) a normal healthy child and always has been. Lucky us eh? Well, maybe. What has medical research found in relation to the potential health risks?

As always, it is probably best that you do your own research into this. But here is a brief summary of some of my findings:

  • Fathers older than 45 had a 14 percent greater chance than fathers in their 20s and 30s of their babies being born prematurely and at low birth weight
  • As the fathers’ ages rose, their babies were more likely to need help with breathing and require admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Other studies found that the risks of childhood leukemia, breast and prostate cancers were elevated among offspring of older fathers
  • Older fathers (≥ 40 years) could increase risks of cardiovascular abnormalities, facial deformities, urogenital abnormalities, and chromosome disorders in their offspring.
  • In general, younger fathers had less effect on birth defects compared with older ones.

Certainly not the same risks for an older mother, where clearly her own life could also be in danger. But it seems that being an old dad can prove a little risky for the child. I know I am repeating myself but; I had never heard anything about this. 

All’s Well (and all that)

As I am sure you already know, none of this has affected my own son. Have we been lucky? Maybe. But entering this world has always carried many risks. Just as growing up in today’s society carries many of the same risks that have always been there throughout history.

Life is, to some (you could even say “large”) extent, a game of chance, and luck always plays a big part. Would I have chosen not to have my son if I had read all of those reports and research papers? Of course not! It’s like that old saying, which i will paraphrase: If you worry about everything you hear or read then you would never do anything. 

Is there some kind of agenda to scare men off from being old dads? Maybe. Certainly cases like De Niro are examples of dads being far too old – I’m sure we can all agree. But I am more than comfortable with my own decision. As for Dani; well he may start to develop his own thoughts on the subject as he gets a little older. But as I always tell him: ‘I bet not many of your mates get to listen to Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd with their dads.’ It is also true that the older you get the wiser you get. For Dani it’s a bit like having a dad and grandad all rolled into one.

It will be interesting to see how the TV company addresses this topic and what their own conclusions/summaries are. As always, I will try to keep you posted…

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