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A Biological Clock for Dads Too
09/10/08 at 14:11:48
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A Biological Clock for Dads Too

Turns out women aren't the only ones with an expiration date on their fertility. An emerging body of research is showing that men, too, have a "biological clock."

Not only do men become less fecund as they age, but their fertility begins to decline relatively early - around age 24, six years or so before women's. Historically, infertility has been seen as a female issue, as has the increased risk of Down syndrome and other birth defects, but studies now also link higher rates of autism, schizophrenia and Down syndrome in children born to older fathers. A recent paper by researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute found that the risk of bipolar disorder in children increased with paternal age, particularly in children born to men age 55 or older.

It used to be that "if you had hair on your chest, it was your wife's problem," says Barry Behr, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Stanford Medical School and director of Stanford's in vitro fertilization laboratory. Even now, he said, though about half of infertility cases are caused by male factors, such as low sperm count or motility, there are many more tests to evaluate a woman's fertility than a man's.


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