The biological clock apparently does not only tick for women, but also men as new research would have us believe.
According to a new study conducted by Kevin Smith from Abertay University in Dundee, men should think of freezing their sperm when they turn 18 to avoid the possibility of their offspring having genetic disorders. The study suggests that the older a man gets, the chances of fathering an offspring with disorders like schizophrenia and autism are heightened.
Smith, a bioethics expert, reveals in a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics that studies pertaining to modern genetics reaffirm that older men's sperm has several mutations and a marginal number of these mutations pose a risk to the health of their yet to be conceived offspring.
"If demographic trends towards later fatherhood continue, this will likely lead to more children suffering from genetic disorders," writes Smith in his paper. He further adds that "a trend of later fatherhood will accelerate the accumulation of paternal-origin de novo mutations [genetic causes of disease] in the gene pool, gradually reducing human fitness in the long term. These risks suggest that paternal age is of ethical importance."
While freezing eggs from women is not uncommon for future family planning when they are older, Smith advocates that men should consider doing the same for sperm in a bid to not fall prey to the deteriorating fitness levels.
Smith is also of the opinion that to avoid the risk, one needs to create awareness and promote early fatherhood. Moreover, young sperm donors should be given incentives and a universal sperm banking system that is supported by the state should be in place. While freezing facilities are available, they are currently expensive.
The universal sperm banking system he feels will not only benefit immensely, but can also be executed immediately.
However, Smith's assertion has met with opposition from fertility doctors who are not in agreement with the suggestions and allege that he is promoting an artificial approach towards parenting. Per the doctors, the risks associated with late fatherhood do not come into effect until a man is in his 40s.
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