Turns Out Men Also Have A Biological Clock

It is an age-old defence that for men there is no need to rush into fatherhood. Yet, an increasing body of research is proving otherwise.

Babies born to older fathers are more likely to have health problems, and their mothers are at a increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, according to a new study. 

Men who embark on the path to parenthood after the age of 45 are more likely to have unhealthy children.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, estimates around 13 percent of premature births and 18 percent of gestational diabetes in pregnancies are linked to a father being older.

If a women is carrying the child of a man aged 55 years or older, they have 34 percent higher odds of getting gestational diabetes.

Researchers looked at the records of more than 40 million U.S. babies born between 2007 and 2016. Image: Getty Images

Researchers at Stanford University in California, also found older dad's are linked to preterm birth, low birth weight, and a baby dying in it's first four weeks of life.

"This triumph of modern medicine—the technology that allows parents to delay childbearing until later in life—has not been without risks," co-author Michael Eisenberg said.

Over the past four decades men and women are having their first child much later in life.

Scientists have long-known that a woman’s chances of conceiving naturally drop sharply from the age of 35, but fertility research has focused so much on women that male factors are less understood.

READ MORE: Fertility Clinic Offers 'Pay As You Go' Egg Freezing

READ MORE: 'One In Every Classroom': IVF Births At Record High

But now, doctors warn that men, just like women can't wait too long.

"We discovered that we may no longer be able to ignore the potential impact that older fathers have on their offspring," Eisendberg said.

The study also found women with older partners are more likely to have a miscarriage than those where the father is under 35.

The BMJ report recommends that the medical community do a better job of communicating to couples an understanding of the risks of advanced paternal age.

Fathers over the age of 55, put mothers at a higher risk of gestational diabetes. IMAGE: Getty Images

The authors say, including men in conversations about planning a pregnancy and preconception health and care, can no longer be overlooked.

In a commentary accompanying the BMJ study, Hilary Brown, a perinatal epidemiologist at the University of Toronto in Scarborough, said it's likely both the mother and father's ages combined, can explain the findings.

"Until recently, preconception health has been a topic aimed primarily at women, with the growing understanding of the importance of contributions by men to perinatal health, however, preconception health is increasingly being defined as the health of all people of reproductive age, regardless of sex," she wrote.

The new study joins past research that has linked higher paternal age with mental and behavioral health issues in children such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder.

Last year, another US study found the success of IVF in women under the age of 40, may be affected by the age of their male partners.

The Harvard Medical School found that the chance of having a baby through IVF fell for these women with increasing age in their male partner.

Featured image: Getty Images

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au