This Summer 2012 I came across two pieces of news about having children later in life. In June, I read that a team of US scientists discovered that children of older fathers are “genetically programmed” to live longer. As men grow older, a bit at the end of the chromosomes in their sperm grows longer, meaning , a longer life. The longer bits are passed to the offspring, now blessed with a longer life compared to that of younger dads who just couldn’t wait!
This struck me as suspiciously chauvinistic – Mad Men revisited, post Millenium – older men ditching their “till death do us part” lifelong wives to go consort with a ravishing younger new thing in older men’s multi-focal radars. All for the sake of evolving mankind, bien sur (French for “of course”).
But then in August another piece of news damped the spirits of the older male spawning boon: “Older Dads linked to Genetic Disorder”. This chilling news came from scientists in Iceland, who had just concluded that the age of the men, not women, is the key factor in the rising trend of mental and other disorders in children born to older parents. Older men produce, and pass on, new sperm with far more genetic mutations than younger men; while women don’t mutate much, as they are born with all their eggs.
As middle age rises from 35 to 55, and retirement from mid 60s to mid 70s, it is likely that there will there be more and more children born to older moms and dads, carrying more disorders throughout longer lives. Should younger men consider freezing their sperm for use in their golden years? Besides the urine sample appeal of the procedure – do those cryogenics even work yet? For the offspring to get the best of both sperm and egg worlds, wouldn’t it be wise for more older women to start mating with younger men?
All for the sake of evolving mankind, námskeið (Icelandic for bien sur.)