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Men Must Contend With a Biological Clock, Too
Date:2/14/2009

Older males face higher risk of fathering children with medical problems, research finds

SATURDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- It wasn't all that long ago that any suggestion that a man had a "biological clock" like a woman, and should father children sooner rather than later, would have been given short scientific shrift.

Not anymore. Today, a growing body of evidence suggests that as men get older, fertility can and does decline, while the chances of fathering a child with serious birth defects and medical problems increase.

Some studies have linked higher rates of serious health problems such as autism and schizophrenia in children born to men as young as their mid-40s.

And doctors and researchers are busy trying to figure out how men who choose to delay fatherhood -- either by choice or necessity, such as a lack of a partner -- can offset the effects of their biological clocks as those clocks wind down.

Interestingly, problems with reduced fertility can start long before middle age, said Dr. Harry Fisch, one of the pioneers in the field in male fertility and director of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons' Male Reproductive Center, in New York City.

"We know after age 30, testosterone levels decline about 1 percent per year," said Fisch, author of the book The Male Biological Clock.

Research done at the University of Washington has found that "as men age, DNA damage occurs to their sperm," said Dr. Narendra P. Singh, a research associate professor in the department of bioengineering, who co-authored a study on the subject.

Several other studies point to problems in the offspring of older fathers, as well as older men experiencing fertility problems.

For instance, Fisch and his colleagues found that if a woman and a man were both older than age 35 at the time of conception, the father's age played a significant role in the prevalence
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