When it comes to having kids, it seems like there's never the perfect time. You can wait until you're married — or not. You can wait until you have the perfect house or the perfect career — or not. The truth is, as I've learned from my own experience, there never is the "perfect" time, or age. But a parent's physical age — both mothers and fathers — can impact their baby's well being in the long run. I checked in with three different fertility experts and found five ways having a dad under 30 may affect your child later in life.
There's a certain degree of faith and surrender when it comes to becoming a parent. These days, both men and women of all ages are having healthy babies who grow up thriving. Sure, there are pros and cons to everything, and having kids later in life has its advantages and disadvantages just like everything else. (Just like becoming a parent in your twenties also has its pros and cons.) Either way, once you become a parent, you find yourself doing whatever you have to do to give your child the best you can. But when it comes to fertility and genetics, some factors are completely out of our control, and timing can be everything.
I spoke to Dr. Edward Marut of Fertility Centers of Illinois, a fertility and pregnancy expert and accupuncturist, Dr. Angela Le of Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness, and Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, a fertility specialist and the Director of the Center of Male Reproductive Health at RMA of New York. Overall, each of the experts I consulted said that ideally, men should have children before the age of 35-40 years old. That said, every man is different and fathers who have children later in life still have a very good chance of producing healthy and thriving offspring. In fact, Dr. Bar-Chama says that overall, "data demonstrates that older fathers as well as their offspring have greater longevity." But what about younger dads? In what ways can their age affect their little ones down the line?
1. Your Baby May Be Less Likely To Develop Mental Illness
This might sound shocking, but according to Dr. Marut, younger fathers (under the age of 40) are less likely to have children who develop serious psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Dr. Le confirms this by stating when it comes to the offspring of older fathers, "mental illness like schizophrenia can double in a man’s 40s and triple in his 50s." She emphasizes that again, every man is different. If you like data, Dr. Bar-Chama says "the risk of schizophrenia increases by 47 percent when fathers are over 45 years old and the rate of childhood autism increases by 80 percent when dads conceive after age 45." Other risk factors for older dads, according to Dr. Bar-Chama, include an increased risk of having children with developmental issues and autism spectrum disorders.
2. It May Create A Stronger Father-Child Bond
Being a young parent makes it easier to keep up with your growing child, which will help you relate more and create stronger bonds. "Being a young, active father offers the benefit of being able to keep up with a child as they grow and develop," Dr. Marut says. "Babies grow into toddlers, youngsters, and teens, and keeping up with them can be a challenge."
3. Your Baby May Get More Years With Dad And Grandparents
Obviously having children younger can possibly give you more years with your children, if you're going by the average life expectancy for men (which according to Statista is 76 years in the United States). Likewise, younger grandparents might expect to get more years with their grandchildren.
4. Less Likelihood for Genetic Abnormalities
When it comes to genetic abnormalities, there are so many unknowns. But if your child's dad is younger, you'll have less to worry about. "Babies born to men in their mid-40s or later have a 1 percent excess in single gene mutations that cannot be predicted in advance," Dr. Marut says. Plus, according to Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, "there is also an increased risk of future disease for children of men with advanced paternal age. Scientists have demonstrated that congenital conditions such as achondroplasia (dwarfism) and cleft palate."
5. Decreased Risk For Diseases That May Present Themselves At Birth Or Even Later In Life
We all want healthy babies, but what factors play into having healthy kids in childhood and beyond? Having a younger dad may not only decrease your baby's risk of being born premature but it also may decrease your child's risk for developing cancer. Says Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, "As the father’s age increases, so do the chances of premature birth, low birth weight, or medical intervention after delivery, such as assisted ventilation, admission to neonatal intensive care, or antibiotics, as well as cancer rates are more prevalent in offspring of men with advanced age."
Basically, young dads have a lot of great things going for them (even if those things don't always include a solid investment portfolio, decent health insurance, and emotional maturity).
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.