The public health impact of increasing paternal age requires further investigation, and clinicians should discuss with their patients the potential impact older fathers may have on their children, according to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
They reported that paternal age is on the rise. This is concerning because the prevalence rates of certain cancers, congenital disorders, and psychiatric illnesses have been shown to directly correlate with advancing paternal age.
The authors reported that the mean paternal age in the U.S. increased from 27.4 years in 1972 to 30.9 years in 2015. It is theorized that some cancers, congenital disorders, and other illnesses may be on the rise because of de novo mutations over time as men age.
“There is a significant increase. While we were expecting the number of births with cancer and neurocognitive deficits to increase, we were certainly surprised by the sheer number of births that were estimated to have been affected in 2015 compared to 1972,” said study author Yash Khandwala, MD, urology resident at Stanford. He was a fourth-year medical student at the time of the study’s presentation at the AUA annual meeting in San Francisco.
Dr. Khandwala said there is a need to further elucidate the role of paternal age on economic burden to society. To date, he said much of the research has been on maternal age and its impact on offspring. He and his colleagues conducted a study to better understand the increase in offspring disease between 1972 and 2015 that may be attributable to increasing paternal age. The team evaluated all births from 1972 to 2015 using weighted data provided by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System.
“As paternal age is increasing in the U.S., it is imperative that we examine the potential implications. Prior data has suggested that paternal age may affect a child’s health. The current study attempts to quantify the paternal age effect for several diseases,” said senior author Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, director of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery and associate professor of urology at Stanford.
For this investigation, the authors categorized births into ranges of paternal age, and all rates were adjusted for maternal age. The number of births affected by each disease was calculated for each year based on the incidence rate of disease for a given paternal age group (cases per 4 million annual births).