Dad's Age Affects the Health of Mom and Baby, Study Says

This marks the first major study to look into older fatherhood.
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profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
November 1, 2018
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Image: Getty Images

From what they eat to when they have baby, women have a lot to consider when they become pregnant.

And moms who get pregnant when they are older than 35 have been told to heed certain risks and complications which may arise. But dad’s age also plays a role in his partner’s and unborn child’s health, a new study says.

The study was conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine and found fathers who are older than 45 are more likely to have premature babies and an increased risk of birth complications, such as seizures and low weight. Throughout the course of the study, researchers followed more than 40 million births between 2007 and 2016, marking the first major study into older fatherhood.

Men older than 45 were 14 percent more likely to have a premature child than younger dads who were 25 to 34 years old. Men aged 50 or older were 28 percent more likely to father a child who needed NICU care. Once a man reaches the age of 55, the birth risks increase more steadily.

And the study also came across another major finding: A man’s age can affect the health of the mother during pregnancy. Women with older partners had an increased chance of developing diabetes during their pregnancy, with partners of fathers older than 45 becoming 38 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes. The exact reason for this is still unclear, but lead study author Michael Eisenberg suggests it may be linked to the mother’s placenta.

Having a child together is a shared responsibility for both partners. Other recent studies suggest dad’s pre-conception diet and exercise routine may also affect baby’s health down the line.

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