MEN who become dads after the age of 45 endanger the health of both the mother and child, a study shows.
Now scientists say men should ‘bank’ their sperm by the age of 35 — just as some women freeze their eggs.
Gloria Bachmann, co-author of the US study, said men have a ‘biological clock’. Older dads’ babies are more likely to be born premature, have a low weight and suffer seizures or birth defects such as congenital heart disease, she said.
Their newborns are more prone to poor ‘Apgar’ scores of heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, skin colour and coughing, the study found. And these children are at higher risk of childhood cancers, autism and schizophrenia.
Miscarriages and other pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia are also more frequent among partners of older dads.
The findings were based on a review of a 40-year study on the effect of parental age on fertility, pregnancy and the health of children.
Prof Bachmann, director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, said a decline in the male sex hormone testosterone was to blame.
‘Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, sperm also tend to lose “fitness” over the life cycle,’ she said.
‘While it’s widely accepted physiological changes that occur in women after 35 can affect conception, pregnancy and the health of the child, most men do not realise their advanced age can have a similar impact.’
Statistics show 18 per cent of babies born in England and Wales have a dad over 40. Famous older dads include Rod Stewart, David Jason and Mick Jagger.