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Medicine Stats Science

Delayed Fatherhood May Be Linked To Certain Congenital and Mental Disorders 192

Posted by timothy
from the guess-I'll-just-have-to-have-mutants dept.
New submitter optimus_phil writes "New Scientist magazine reports on findings that suggest that delaying fatherhood may increase the risk of fathering children with disorders such as Apert syndrome, autism and schizophrenia. The article reports that 'although there is a big increase in risk for many disorders, it's a big increase in a very small risk. A 40-year-old is about 50 per cent more likely to father an autistic child than a 20-year-old is, for instance, but the overall risk is only about 1 per cent to start with.'"
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Delayed Fatherhood May Be Linked To Certain Congenital and Mental Disorders

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @04:18AM (#46314951)

    On the other hand, maybe waiting until you're 40 to have a kid is a symptom of the genes responsible for these disorders.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @04:38AM (#46315003)

    More likely a sign of the effect of society on the decision of having a child: either the couple is poor and decides they can't offer the child a good life, or they're still student and they prefer to wait until they're done with their studies and have stable jobs and incomes... that sort of thing.

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @05:03AM (#46315043)

    But consider what potential your children might have. For all you know, you could father a genius who brings peace and harmony to the world. Or you could father the greatest genocidal maniac of all time who finally puts the world out of its misery.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @05:28AM (#46315093) Homepage Journal

    Consider this alternative.

    • Excellent choice. You had been scheduled to be the parents of the world's next Hitler but your decision to not procreate will spare untold misery and suffering.
      #Deity

    Basically, some things in life are enormous responsibilities that you should face with your eyes open. If you think that you shouldn't have children or own a gun or fly a plane, you're probably right.

    LK

  • by Calydor (739835) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @05:38AM (#46315107)

    Yes, because being locked into an unhappy and possibly abusive relationship for life is so much better.

    If your spouse wants to drag you through hell in the legal system, what do you think it'll be like to be forced to keep on living with them?

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @06:25AM (#46315199)

    "More to the point, the way the world is going, a kid born today as a very high chance of leading a life of debt, unemployment, poverty, starvation, war, and whatever else the future has in store, before dying."

    You're talking about the US I guess.

  • by Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:18AM (#46315351)

    There are two reasons for that.

    1: Feminism is reacting to the historical fact that it has usually been the reverse that was true. It is only contraceptives which have managed to change this.

    2: This is compounded, and this is where it probably gets "too complex" for a lot of people, by the fact that this behavior IS inherently sexist. Of course, here a lot of people fail to understand that the famous "patriarchy", which feminists decry, is also sexist toward men.

    Women, it says, are all harmless victims who cannot abuse children. Women are perfect parents who should stay home and care for their children. Men are child abusers and rape monsters and are not fit to care for children.

    Note that there's some overlap between a certain subset of feminists (known as radical feminists) and conservatives to confuse the matter further.

  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:19AM (#46315357)

    Makes you wish for the good old days, when people didn't defer marriage because the social costs of doing so were overwhelmingly high, and divorce rates were low because they were hard to get...

    You mean, the good old days when families actually were more stable, and tended to be happier?

    No, don't throw me in the brier patch! Anything but that!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:42AM (#46315417)

    If you want children, donate your source code.

    Court Says Craigslist Sperm Donor Must Pay Child Support [slashdot.org]. So that is not a real option. So if you are male, you are out of luck.

    Gee, if only there were an entire industry designed around allowing men to donate their sperm while legally shielding them from responsibility for that donation.

  • "Just" 1% ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgw@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday February 23, 2014 @08:36AM (#46315533) Journal

    Personally I view a significant cogitative or social defect that has a one-percent chance of ocurring to be unacceptably high. That's several kids in each class year in any medium-sized elementary school.

    So, yes, I would consider an increase from 1% to 1.5% to be important. Granted, reducing the base probability would be far more useful than dealing with the age-related increase, but either way, these are large numbers compared with, say the usual "cancer risk increases by 5x" headlines which ignore the base risk being maybe 1E-6.

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:12AM (#46315669)

    Speaking of medicine, how much of that risk increase is due to the advanced age of the father, and how much is related to the extra medical procedures he was subjected to ?

    And how much of it is because Aspies have difficulty with relationships, and get married later in life, after both their social skills and finances have improved? The correlation may be backwards. It may not be older fathers creating autism, but autism creating older fathers.

    disclaimer: I got married when I was 43.

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scarboni888 (1122993) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:39AM (#46315755)

    The unborn are in a place of peace. Who are we to disturb that?

    Every year 2,000,000 people on this planet commit suicide and untold others make the attempt.

    Why bother taking the chance of subjecting some poor unfortunate soul to what amounts to misery and suffering? What gives you the right, especially in a day and age when effective and safe sterilization methods exist?

    Because it was done to you, maybe? I would hope not.

    Every day millions of unfertilized eggs get flushed down the toilets. There's nothing sad about that now is there?

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @01:03PM (#46316933)

    More to the point, the way the world is going, a kid born today as a very high chance of leading a life of debt, unemployment, poverty, starvation, war, and whatever else the future has in store, before dying.

    I used to think this way too. But I think the one thing that stands out as irrational in your argument is "today." What is so bad about "today"?

    Go back a hundred years, and the chances of a lot of these things was significantly higher. Go back a few centuries, and most kids died in early childhood, many women died in childbirth, and most people who managed to get to adulthood faced much, much more harsh conditions than the vast majority of people would in an industrialized country would today.

    So, if you want to have a pessimistic worldview, and you think that's a good reason not to have a child, that's fine. But just be honest with yourself and admit that -- by that logic -- the human race should have become extinct a long, long time ago. It has to do with your philosophy and beliefs, not some terrible conditions that are supposedly so much worse "today."

    As far as we're concerned, my s.o. and I, the best time for fatherhood is never, as we reckon giving life today isn't really a gift.

    Life is neither a "gift," nor is it some sort of "punishment." It is simply life. Frankly, while I myself had thought the same thoughts in the past, I have since realized the hypocrisy that often comes with it. If so many things are so terrible in the world today, why not commit suicide right now? If life is "suffering" and having a child is only to bring a new life into a world of suffering, why do you yourself continue to exist?

    And if your answer is simply, "Well, things are getting worse... so I'm still okay, but my child would have a terrible future," then please see above and read some history books. Miraculously, millions of those people in the past didn't commit suicide either, despite the horrendous suffering in their world -- and they even chose to bring more kids into it.

    Don't get me wrong: I have no problem with people who decide not to have kids for whatever reason. I think fewer people probably should have them, since it's a significant responsibility, and people should think about it seriously. But try to be honest with yourself about what your motivations are.

    (Otherwise, you end up going down the bizarre irrational path of philosophers, like David Benatar [wikipedia.org] who advocate that the human race commit collective suicide (see Benatar's book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence), but the philosophers themselves -- despite horrendous suffering in the world, and their likely contribution to more of it every day -- somehow decide that they should themselves continue stay alive. Life really must not seem that bad to most people who make this argument, if they're still living in this world.)

Riches: A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." -- John D. Rockefeller, (slander by Ambrose Bierce)

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