Becoming a father after 40 years: infertility and health risks for children

While there are no biological “deadlines” like there are for women, several factors can still influence a man’s chances of becoming a parent.

Vera Martinella

Being too old to have a child is a typically female problem, inherent in the very limits of our body: 35-37 years is the age when a decline in fertility in women physiologically begins. There are many studies on the influence of maternal age on the health of the unborn child and on the expectations of a peaceful pregnancy, but how much does the age of the father affect? Not much, according to the results of two studies presented during the last congress of the European Society of Reproductive Medicine ESHRE by experts from IVI clinics for assisted reproduction.

The latest research

The studies aimed to investigate whether and how much sperm from an adult of advanced paternal age (i.e. with more than 40 years) affects the obstetric health of the woman during pregnancy, the type of delivery and the health of the newborn. “The sample used for the studies is one of the largest for this type of research – he explains Mauro Cozzolinospecialist in Reproductive Medicine of IVI Rome -: between patients who have carried out egg donation and patients with their own eggs we talk about 30,784 patients and 34,106 newborns, while the paternal age taken into consideration ranges from 21 to 54 years. We have considered a number of indicators of pregnancy and perinatal health such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, baby weight, type of birth, head circumference or ICU admission after birth, and we concluded that paternal age does not affect outcomes obstetricians and perinatals in assisted reproduction treatments with their own oocytes “.

The causes of male infertility

The varicocele, which generally does not cause symptoms (it is a varicose dilation of the veins of the scrotum, the sac that contains the testicles, which can interfere with the production of spermatozoa), is among the main risk factors for male fertility. Other possible causes include: birth defects such as the cryptorchidismthat is, the failure or incomplete descent of the testicles into the scrotum; genetic abnormalities causing little or no sperm production; chronic genital infections And hormonal failure.

Differences between males and females

Research has therefore shown that there is neither a decline in sperm quality nor in male fertility. How is it possible? “One of the reasons for this difference between men and women is purely biological – he replies Daniela Galliano, director of the Ivi PMA Clinic in Rome, specialist in Gynecology, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine -: in men, spermatogenesis occurs constantly, every day and at all times, so new cells are generated. Women, on the other hand, have follicles in their ovaries since they are in the womb, that is, they are with them for life. And, of course, this affects the characteristics of fertilization and everything that entails afterwards, since sperm are not as old as eggs when fertilization is attempted ”.

Beware of over 50s

While it is true that men can, in practice, becoming fathers at any age However, two factors should be kept in mind: first, the health problems often associated with advancing age lead to one sperm quality not always optimal. Second, if the father is elderly there may be risks to the health of the newborn: although this is quite rare, some studies have shown that after i 50 yearsand even more so in the presence of genitourinary changes or exposure to toxic substances (such as smoking and drugs), the danger of neurological problems such as autism and schizophrenia in children.



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Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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