Well, that was a refreshing break. However, prodded by the excellent and virtuous Kent over at Uncommon Ground, I’ve decided to get off my keister over here…..
For those of us who have already produced all the kids we are going to, it’s too late, but there’s news you can use if you are still considering whose sperm to use when making babies. Or whether to use your own, should you be a man. Swedish scientists this week added to the growing body of evidence that older fathers are more likely to produce babies who will eventually be taxed with the kind of troubles you wouldn’t wish on anyone’s kid, much less your own. Earlier studies showed that children sired by older men are more likely to be stillborn; if born live, they are more likely to eventually endure autism, schizophrenia, and cancer. The Swedish study added bipolar disorder to the list.
Every parent I know who is over the age of 25 likes to joke that they are too old for the physical labor of caring for children (the sleep loss, oh my god the sleep!), but this is not funny. How old is too old? Menopause puts a clear dividing line down for women (capable of producing babies before/not capable of producing babies after) but men are famously capable of producing working sperm until very late into old age. (We are assuming that women do not cheat on their older husbands with younger men, right?)
Understanding how and why aging in a prospective father increases the likelihood that his child will be somehow unhealthy depends on understanding how men make sperm. It also involves something I think of as the Photocopy Principle. Next up: Where Do Sperm Come From?