A number of advantages may be associated with having children at an older age. Men and women who bear children later in life, for instance, tend to be more emotionally mature and financially prepared to raise children.
Unfortunately, there appears to be disadvantages to fathering children at an older age. Men who want to have attractive children should consider the negative implications of having children at a riper age as research shows that older fathers tend to have uglier children.
In earlier studies, researchers have found that the genetic mutations that occur in older men's genes increase their risk of having children with autism and schizophrenia. Now, researchers say this genetic mutation may also affect the physical appearance of the children.
In a new study published in the journal Nature, researchers showed a group of 12 participants over 8,000 photographs of men and women between 18 to 20-years old and asked them to rate the subjects' attractiveness. They found that those with older fathers were more often rated as less attractive than those with younger fathers.
Martin Fieder, an anthropologist at Vienna University said that there is significant association between the age of the father and his child's attractiveness.
"We found a significant negative effect between paternal age and people's facial attractiveness," Fieder said. "The age of the father at conception is not only a determinant of the risk for certain diseases but also predicts facial attractiveness."
Martin Fieder, one of the study's research team leaders, added that because of genetic mutation, children born to younger fathers can be as much as 10 percent more attractive than children who have older fathers.
"Every 16 years the mutation rate doubles. Other researchers found 25 mutations per sperm in a 20-year-old, but at age 40 it is 65 mutations. By 56, it doubles again," Fieder said. "The effect is very visible - someone born to a father of 22 is already 5-10 per cent more attractive than those with a 40-year-old father and the difference grows with the age gap."
Children of older dads albeit less attractive, however, are likely to live longer than their counterparts with younger fathers. Lee Smith, a geneticist at Edinburgh University said that research found that children of older men tend to have longer telomeres, a compound structure at the end of the chromosomes that are associated with longevity.