From the desk of Doc Smo: Father time versus fathers (Article)

The latest issue of Nature supports the notion that, as a species, western humans are out of sync with our biologic roots.  That issue reports that researchers in Iceland have discovered that the older a man is when he fathers a child, the more mutations he passes to his offspring. Compared with a twenty-year old dad, a father in his thirties has a 200% rise in the incidence of mutations, and one his seventies has an 800% rise in the incidence of mutations!  We have known for a long time that the rate of autism in children increases with paternal age. Many researchers believe that autism has a genetic basis, so, given this new information, we would expect older men to have a higher chance of fathering an autistic child.

In modern western life, the amount of time it takes a man to become educated and capable of supporting a family continues to grow.  According to some statistics, the age of fatherhood continues to rise and now averages 33 years old, up from 28 years old just a few years ago. Modern life promotes delays in marriage, self-sufficiency, and ultimately fatherhood.  Biologically, younger fathers may have an advantage, but culturally they do not.  Younger fathers may be incapable of adequately supporting the family unit because they lack education, skills, and experience.  For our society to remain healthy, we need to find a balance between our biologic limits and modern cultural realities.  It is becoming evident that neither mothers nor fathers can keep pushing the envelope of reproduction. I would love to hear what you think about this subject at  Until next time…

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