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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Men have a biological clock, too

A Stanford University study notes that children born to older fathers may be more prone to health issues

Family planning needs to consider the age of the father, too 
Family planning needs to consider the age of the father, too 

Many women have long identified with Meg Ryan's lament in the film When Harry Met Sally. "Charlie Chaplin had babies when he was 75," she cried to a bemused Billy Crystal. As it turns out, Chaplin may well have put his offspring at risk for a host of ailments, according to a study by California's Stanford University.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, state that men who embark on the path to parenthood after the age of 45 are more likely to have unhealthier children.

The researchers looked at the records of more than 40 million babies, born between 2007 and 2016, and found that 14 per cent of the children born to men over the age of 45 were either premature, had a low birth weight or required neonatal intensive care, compared to those born to younger fathers.

The study further notes that women carrying the child of a man who is 55 years and older are at risk for gestational diabetes.

Previous studies have linked age with unhealthy lifestyle habits, which may be one of the causes for these findings. Unfortunately, the average age of parents, especially men, have gone up over the past few decade in developed countries.

Although the findings are more the result of an analysis of past records, rather than a stand-alone experiment, and the risk is termed as "modest", researchers say that couples should be mindful of both the man and the woman's age when it comes to family planning.

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