It seems that the parents are getting old. Let it be said that in some cases it is quite old.
As is the case with actor Al Pacino, 83, who found out this week he’s going to be a father again when his representatives announced he’s going to have a son with his girlfriend of 29 years, Noor Alfallah .
Pacino will join the late fathers’ club with his only co-star, Robert De Niro, who last month confirmed he would be father to his seventh child aged 79.
They are not the first elderly parents: other actors, musicians, and even presidents of the United States have had children at much older ages.
In general, the average age of new parents has been increasing over the years to the extent that between 1972 and 2015 it increased by 3.5 years. Currently, the average father’s age in the United States is 30.9 years, And 9% of parents were at least 40 when their child was born.
The oldest father in history, at least according to the Guinness Book of Records, was 92, although unofficial claims about older men sometimes emerge.
However, becoming a parent at such a young age comes with its own set of risks.
In December 2022, researchers from the University of Utah and other institutions published a comprehensive review of “advanced paternal age” and its impact on fertility, pregnancy problems, and child health.
Although many studies didn’t include many men Pacino’s or De Niro’s age because of how rare they are, evidence suggests that men’s sperm in their forties and fifties already improve in terms of volume, count, motility, and motility. Only low quality. and mutation.
These changes mean that advanced paternal age “is associated not only with a higher risk of infertility, but also with pregnancy loss following natural conception,” write the researchers.
This claim is supported by several studies that have shown that an older father significantly increases the risk of miscarriage.
Then there is the danger of disease after birth. It has been known since the 1950s that children of older parents are more likely to have achondroplasia, a genetic disorder. And correlations with many other conditions have since emerged.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that advanced paternal age, like advanced maternal age … is associated with harmful health effects in offspring,” published the University of Utah study.
Other research, this time from Stanford University, found that older paternal age was associated with lower birth weight and an increased risk of seizures in newborns.
Older paternal age is also associated with higher rates of various childhood cancers, as well as a higher likelihood of congenital heart defects and autism.
However, it should be remembered that, in many of the studies examining the relationship between health and potential causes, the mechanisms are unclear. There may be other complicating factors such as the lifestyle of parents and environmental pollution.
even in humans
Nevertheless, researchers have found that as men age, they can undergo mutations and damage to the DNA of the cells that make up sperm, which can be passed on to the next generation.
studies are This has led to a change in the way doctors and scientists think about fertility in general.
Historically, there has been a tendency to focus on women and their age when a couple has problems conceiving, with much research focused on female fertility.
But it is becoming increasingly clear that although male fertility declines more slowly and later in life than female fertility, father’s age is still important.
For now, cases of Pacino and De Niro – and other men in their seventies, eighties and nineties – are rare. But, in general, fatherhood is no longer a thing for young people.
Since the 1970s, the number of American parents under the age of 30 has decreased by 27%, while The number of parents between the ages of 45 and 49 has increased to 52%.
If current trends continue, medical – not to mention societal approaches – will undoubtedly have to adapt.