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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 @04:23AM (#46314963)
    With a 50% divorce rate in the US, if you have children and you're the primary wage earner, it is likely you
    1) Pay for kids that you only get to see 20% of the time
    2) Pay your ex-spouse for his'/her's decision/ability to make less money than you do
    3) Pay your ex-spouse's legal bills so that person can cause you as much pain as possible in court
    I think it is a horrible deal.
    And the legal system becomes the other person's weapon to abuse you.
    Miss a payment, and you're screwed.
    If you want children, donate your source code.
    If you want to raise kids, date someone who has nice kids.
  • Re:In other news.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @04:45AM (#46315013)

    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.

    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.

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

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @05:14AM (#46315063)

    I have a somewhat more optimistic view of the future than you seem to -- I do think we're heading for a low point in some areas right now, but I also think these things often go in cycles and that since most people are basically decent human beings we will learn to deal with the problems and fix them with time. There will be more later, but that's life.

    Personally, I wonder how much the kinds of health effects we're discussing here make a difference compared to the potential benefits of having parents who are a bit older. For example, if older parents tend to be more financially secure, they can probably afford a better home in a safer neighbourhood and a safer model of car. Maybe they can afford better educational toys or more books or to take their children to more places and given them more positive experiences as they grow up. More mature and experienced parents can also share the benefits of that experience with their children, perhaps giving the kids a head start in academic life or more emotional support when they have to deal with difficult situations.

    There's got to be some sort of balance here. Very young parents don't tend to do well by their kids, because they can't. Maybe they lack sufficient resources to care for them properly, and maybe they are still barely more than children themselves emotionally. On the other hand, relatively old parents tend to have kids with more health problems as we've been discussing, and obviously at some point in your life you can no longer mother a new child at all. The interesting thing to me is how to figure out what gives kids the best outcomes under different circumstances, so would-be parents can make informed decisions based on seeing the whole picture.

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

    by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @06:01AM (#46315141)
    In other news, Children with older fathers and grandfathers 'live longer' [bbc.co.uk] And quote:

    It might be possible that the advantage of receiving long telomeres from an old father is more than offset by the disadvantage of higher levels of general DNA damage and mutations in sperm

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @06:08AM (#46315155)

    There's got to be some sort of balance here. Very young parents don't tend to do well by their kids, because they can't. Maybe they lack sufficient resources to care for them properly, and maybe they are still barely more than children themselves emotionally. On the other hand, relatively old parents tend to have kids with more health problems as we've been discussing, and obviously at some point in your life you can no longer mother a new child at all. The interesting thing to me is how to figure out what gives kids the best outcomes under different circumstances, so would-be parents can make informed decisions based on seeing the whole picture.

    I've always wondered if we may be better off looking outside the box here on childbearing ages.

    I think most of us would be in agreement that biologically speaking, young parents are preferred. They have the best quality genetic material, and in the case of the mother childbirth is easier (at times significantly so) on a younger mother than an older mother. And yet at the same time, older parents are socially and economically secure in a way that most young parents cannot match, essentially making them better caregivers.

    Meanwhile there's no reason to believe that parents (as an average) are going to start getting younger again. And I'd actually be surprised if they stopped getting older for at least the next little bit, as we continue to stretch out that early insecure adulthood phase through increasingly rigorous and time consuming education and career building phases.

    So what if instead of trying to find a less-than-ideal balance, we decouple child creation and child rearing entirely? Admittedly I wager this idea is completely infeasible, but it's an interesting thought to me all the same.

    The idea is essentially this: what if we made adoption the preferred method of starting a family rather than procreation? Older parents, socially, emotionally, and financially secure, could adopt healthy children produced by young parents. This provides them with the biological benefits of younger parents, with an added kicker that an adopted child is going to be less disruptive to one's career than bearing a child directly, especially in the mother's case.

    Meanwhile on the supply side we essentially incentivize young couples to have children so that they may be adopted through this system. The ideal age would probably be the late teens, so you'd have the young parents graduate high school and then spend the next 2-3 years producing children. The young parents would be compensated, and from there they could start college at 20-21, with the ability to use that compensation to help cover the lofty costs of college. Finally, in 10-20 years when their own lives are secure, they can become the older parents that adopt children through the very same system.

    This plan has some pretty big flaws, not the least of which is that there's an extremely strong preference among parents to raise children that are biologically theirs and not adopted, so on that basis alone I don't really think such a plan would work. But socially and biologically this seems like it would be a win-win; you get all the biological benefits of young parents and all the social benefits of old parents, minimizing the problems that either scenario alone comes with.

    As a soon to be married woman I'm facing that all too familiar dilemma about career and family. Biologically speaking it's best if I don't wait much longer to start a family, but I know long term it would be better for my family if my career was farther along so that I don't miss out on lifetime earnings and career advancement. The above is probably just a frustrated uterus talking, but given the number of women who are in the same predicament like me, it does make me wonder if some method of decoupling child making and child rearing is the best way to go here.

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

    by scarboni888 (1122993) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @10:14AM (#46315877)

    Well if you're a whackjob that believes in 'a destiny of sorts' then my rationale will never make it through your selfish shield of emotional appeal will it?

    Fact of the matter is we're all born to die due to a runaway genetic program that, due to the second law of thermodynamics, is clearly a dead end road. It doesn't care about you and uses you only for it's insanely dead-end process of creating more robot producing genetic robots to no real purpose. Through programmed death it discards us as only so much used-up tissue paper so why should we have any more respect or reverence for it than it has for us? We toil and labour under the guaranteed threat of our own demise and for what? This insane loop that seeks to preserve itself in a perpetual birth, life, and death process that will, ultimately, in the heat death of the universe, amount to nothing anyway except for maybe all of the suffering it laid waste to along the way?

    You can unthinkingly promote the subjucation of those who never needed to be subject to it in the first place if you like. I personally think a short circuiting of the entire process is far more (and pre-emptively) compassionate. That is all.

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