RNZ: How old is too old to be a dad?

This piece, from September 2015, was published on RNZ.

Say “tick tock, biological clock” and most people immediately think of women in their mid-thirties anxiously clutching referral letters to already oversubscribed IVF clinics.

Women are frequently warned “not to leave it too late”, but should more effort be expended warning men to have children while they are young?

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Although they don’t receive the same media attention as the female equivalents, a plethora of studies show that men take risks by waiting to have children.

As men age, the quality of their sperm deteriorates, increasing the chance that a pregnancy will end in miscarriage or the baby will have Down syndrome or other genetic abnormalities. A recent study showed that almost half the cases of Down syndrome in children born to women over 35 are likely to be sperm-related.

It’s information men need to know, says Auckland fertility specialist and IVF pioneer Dr Richard Fisher.

“I don’t know that people need to be worried about it, but they certainly should be aware of it and aware of the associated conditions in children: schizophrenia, dwarfism… There’s evidence about impaired child development, which is more common in older men.”

“And older men’s partners take longer to conceive as well, which is to do with sperm quality,” he says.

The rest of the piece is availableĀ here.

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