Can ageing fathers have an impact on the future and health of their children?

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In recent times, couples are delaying childbearing due to social, financial or professional reasons. There is a known decline in fertility with age, though more crucial in women, but also prevalent in men.

Beyond the fact that older men will have older female partners, increasing age in men is associated with a longer time taken to conceive. In a study, natural conception in men during a 12 month period was 30% less if the male was above age 40, possibly due to changing sexual function (decreased frequency of coitus, erectile dysfunction) or medical conditions in the ageing male.

There is a fall in sperm count, poor motility and abnormal morphology as men age.

In addition, a study determined that a father’s age has a significant impact on the risk of miscarriage, and the child’s health and development. There could be increased chances of cleft lip or palate, heart defects, autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

However, with advances in medical technology, such as assisted reproductive techniques like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or sperm donation, older men can still become biological fathers.

What is Sperm preservation?

Sperm preservation, also known as sperm cryopreservation(freezing) or sperm banking, is a  process of freezing and storing sperm cells to be used later. The sample is collected by  masturbation and cooled to very low temperatures and can be stored in liquid nitrogen as  long as needed. It has been done for years, mainly for men who are about to undergo medical treatments that may pose a risk to their fertility, such as chemotherapy, radiation  therapy, or surgery affecting the reproductive organs.

It can also help men with genetic  conditions, before vasectomy, or for individuals in high-risk occupations (e.g. military) where  there is a possibility of fertility impairment. The sperms can be stored for decades and can be  thawed when needed when their motility and viability is ascertained.

Sperms may undergo damage during the freezing and thawing process but the survival rate  of 85% for frozen sperm has been reported, and it doesn’t affect the clinical outcome  significantly. The success of using frozen sperm for fertility treatments depends on various  factors like the quality of the sperm sample at the time of preservation, the technique used  for assisted reproduction(IUI, IVF or ICSI), and the individual’s overall fertility health.

Research shows that IUI with frozen sperm may slightly reduce the success rate from 21%  to 16%. In IVF and ICSI, studies did not demonstrate any significant decrease in pregnancy  rates when frozen sperms were used.

Besides this, on a personal front, it is also important for a man to consider his overall health and energy levels, and longevity when contemplating fatherhood at a late age like  80.

Raising a child requires a long-term commitment and one needs to assess if they will be  able to provide the necessary care and support throughout your child’s life. Bringing up a  child not only requires physical stamina, but also has emotional and psychological demands,  a strong support system and financial implications. Eventually, an open and honest communication with the child about the parents’ age and any potential limitations should be  carried out for their understanding and acceptance.

Read Full Article here : Al Pacino and Robert De Niro embrace fatherhood at 80: Can ageing fathers affect their child’s health and future? – Dr Astha Dayal Exclusive interview in Indian Express

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