Babies whose fathers are 45 years old or over are more likely to be less healthy at birth, according to a study of more than 40 million deliveries.
On average children of older fathers were born 20.2 grams lighter, and had a 14 per cent greater risk of low birth weight than infants born to fathers aged 25 to 34. Babies with fathers aged 45 or older also had a 14 per cent higher chance of being admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit, and were 14 per cent more likely to be premature than those born to younger fathers.
The figures come from an analysis by researchers at Stanford University in California of 40 million live births that took place in the US between 2007 and 2016. They report the relative risk rather than the absolute risk, meaning it is still only a small number of births that require neonatal intensive care units, for example.
The team says the study was important because it offered rare insight into the impact a father’s age can have on a child, where women have for years been encouraged not to put off having babies due to concerns over health and medical complications.
They added that while the absolute risks of being an older father remain low, the findings ‘emphasise the importance’ of including data on men when investigating the public health implications of rising parental age.
Source: New Scientist