According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, What’s That Ticking Sound? The Male Biological Clock (brought to my attention by a Jerusalem blogger Habitza) the answer is yes. Basically, the article quotes research that the risk of producing an offspring with health problems increases with a man’s age. Here’s a quote from the article which should hit home to the over 40 club:
Older fathers made headlines several years ago when researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported that a man over 40 is almost six times as likely as a man under 30 to father an autistic child. Since then, research has shown that a man’s chances of fathering offspring with schizophrenia double when he hits 40 and triple at age 50. The incidence of bipolarity, epilepsy, prostate cancer and breast cancer also increases in children born to men approaching 40.
Both dwarfism and Marfan syndrome (a disorder of the connective tissue) have been linked to older fathers, and according to research published in 1996 in the journal Nature Genetics, Apert syndrome (a disorder characterized by malformations of the skull, face, hands and feet) is a mutation caused exclusively by advanced paternal age.
If you’re a man above the age of 40, this stuff is scary. I speak from experience, because it sure as heck scared me. But the real question is, does this research have any effect upon the realities of dating? While it might be empowering for women who have been rejected by “older” men solely because of their age (and thus, their childbearing ability) to be able to throw the research right in the faces of their “rejectors”, it don’t change a darn thing. Despite their potential handicaps, older men will continue to discriminate based on age.
What the research might accomplish is to light a blazing fire under the rear ends of the over 40 (and late 30’s) gang and motivate them to get on the marriage track sooner than later. The attitude of, “it doesn’t matter how old a man is when he gets married because he can always procreate” isn’t quite as valid anymore. It might matter a great deal.
Gentlemen, are you listening?
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