Older fathers have healthier offspring

For a young woman in search of a suitable partner, an older man could be a better bet for producing healthy offspring than a hormone-fuelled teenager, researchers have found.

The largest study investigating the influence of paternal age on the chances of having a baby with birth problems has found that fathers under the age of 20 are at highest risk. Babies born to teenage fathers were 22 per cent more likely to die in the first four weeks and 41 per cent more likely to die in the first year than those born to fathers in their 20s. They were also up to 17 per cent more likely to be born early and have a low birth weight.

There was no increased risk for babies born to older fathers, aged 40-plus.

All the mothers in the study, published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, were aged 20 to 29, to eliminate the influence of maternal age.

Professor Shi Wu Wen, of the Ottawa Health Research Institute, Canada, who led the study, said the findings had potentially serious implications. "Although the increased relative risks for most outcomes were small the magnitude of the risk to society could be huge, if the increases we found are truly attributable to paternal age."

However, it was also likely that social factors played a part.

Teenage fathers were more likely to be poorer than older fathers in their 40s, less well educated and less likely to bring their partners for antenatal care when potential birth problems could be anticipated. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: "It would be easy to point the finger at younger father's sperm and say that they were inadequate in some way.

"But that bucks the trend of many studies that have shown there are increasing sperm DNA defects as men get older.

"A far more convincing explanation for the finding in this study is that older men are simply better able to provide for their pregnant partners than younger fathers. It makes sense that babies born to older fathers probably have a better start to life."

The generation gap

Jonathan Dimbleby

Dimbleby became a father again last year aged 62 when his second wife, Jessica Ray, 31, gave birth to a daughter, Daisy.

Michael Douglas

Douglas was 56 when his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, then 31, gave birth in 2000 to the first of the couple's two children.

Heidi Klum

The German supermodel was 30 when she gave birth to her first child, Leni, in 2004. Klum had already split from the child's father, Flavio Briatore, who was 54.

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Newly Qualified Teachers

    £90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

    Year 3/4 Teacher

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments