New research shows that the average age of fathers to newborns is three-and-a-half years older than it was in the early 1970s, and that there are twice as many 40+ year-old-fathers of newborns than there was in 1972.
It’s not super uncommon to hear about ‘older moms’ these days, as many women deal with infertility issues that prevent them from having children earlier in life, or simply choose to delay motherhood for various reasons. But now researchers are looking at the possible health and social impact older dads may have, as a new study shows that fathers of newborns are almost four years older, on average, than newborn dads were in the early ’70s.
Lead researcher, Dr. Michael Eisenberg, with Stanford University in California says that though the trend parallels that of United States women, it’s important to look at how the older average age of parents can affect health issues in their children. Some research suggests that older parents have higher chances of their children being affected by autism or schizophrenia, for example.
Socially, parents who are older tend to have fewer children, which can result in different demographics for a generation that would be expected at some point to support retiring older Americans.
That said, Dr. Eisenberg said that there are definitely perks to ‘older’ parenthood — parents tend to have better financial resources and stability and tend to be more involved in their children’s lives. Older fathers also have a maturity level that may lend itself to less impulsivity and more stability in their relationships with their children and the mothers of their children, which may have a trickle-down effect on their kids.
Some researchers suggest children who have more involvement from their fathers have better self-esteem and socially emotional regulation ability.
The research was based on federal health records for births in the past forty years, and found that in 1972, the average age for a father of a newborn was about 27-years-old. In 2015, that age was 31, and seems to be growing, across all races and ethnicities. And, while only 0.9% of men over 50 are fathering children, that is still up from 0.5% in the ’70s.