Study: American men fathering children at older age

Move over George Clooney; you've got company. Recent research shows American men across all regions and races are fathering children at an older age.

Dr. Edmund Sabanegh of Cleveland Clinic says a man's fertility generally has a longer shelf-life than that of a woman, but it's important to know that the risk of genetic abnormalities in children tends to rise with a father's age. 

"There is an increased risk of genetic problems in offspring for men, older men. That risk is not as severe as we see with women, women's age, but we do see it," he says.

Dr. Sabanegh says men tend to be fertile longer than women, but just how long often depends on overall health.

Research suggests a potential increase in autism, psychiatric problems and neurological disease in children born to older fathers. According to Dr. Sabanegh, the risk for these abnormalities seems to begin when a child is fathered by a man in his late 50s, and increases with age. 

He recommends older men who hope to father a healthy child maintain a normal body weight and exercise regularly. In addition, a diet with plenty of antioxidant-rich foods is also important to keep a future father's DNA healthy by warding off oxidative stress. 

"It's similar to what you see on a nail rusting. That same oxidation can occur in our genetics, so taking antioxidant vitamins, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, all of those things are going to help us," Dr. Sabanegh says.

He adds that men over 50 may also face other health issues, like prostate cancer, as they get older. He encourages men who may be concerned about their ability to father a child to visit a specialist who can help determine their fertility health.  

Complete result of the study can be found in the journal Human Reproduction.

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