Men also have a ticking biological clock. A new study found that men who delay having families put their partners' and children's health at risk.
A team from Rutgers University reviewed 40 years' worth of data to investigate the effects of paternal age on fertility, pregnancy, and the wellbeing of their offspring.
"While it is widely accepted that physiological changes that occur in women after 35 can affect conception, pregnancy and the health of the child, most men do not realize their advanced age can have a similar impact," explained Gloria Bachman, author of the study and the director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
In the study published in the journal Maturitas, researchers revealed that men who are 45 years old above put their partners at risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth.
On the other hand, infants are in danger of premature birth or late still birth, low Apgar scores, low birth weight, higher incidence of seizure, and birth defects such as congenital heart disease. As they grow older, these children will have a higher likelihood of childhood cancers, psychiatric and cognitive disorders, and autism.
Men of this age group also have decreased fertility. According to Bachmann, these are outcomes of a decline of testosterone and sperm degradation, which occur naturally as men grow older.
Older men struggle with fertility issues even if their partner is under 25 years old.
In addition, the study found that the number of children born to fathers older than 45 years old has risen by 10 percent over the past 40 years. The researchers believe that the increase is due to assisted reproductive technology.
Men's Biological Clock Should Be Discussed
The researchers said that the findings should highlight the necessity for physicians to also communicate the risks of delaying fatherhood to their patients and discuss options that will allow them to have a healthy family in the future. They noted that there is less public awareness on the possible effects of paternal age to the health of men, their partners, and their children.
"While women tend to be more aware and educated than men about their reproductive health, most men do not consult with physicians unless they have a medical or fertility issue," stated Bachmann.
The team, however, warned that more research is needed to further investigate correlations before drawing conclusions.