First Time Dads Are Getting Older, Study Says

If nature has anything to say about it, men should be fathers at a relatively early age. It makes sense, in terms of evolution, as males tend to be their most active and fit (so, better providers) in their 20s and 30s. Of course, society has changed greatly over the span of human evolution, so men can become fathers at nearly any age, now, without any serious provisional loss.

But a new study shows that American dads are getting older. Or, rather, the average American father is having his first child 3.5 years later in life than the average American father four decades ago.

Published in the journal Human Reproduction, the Stanford University School of Medicine study shows that the average age of the father of a newborn (for the first time) is now 30.9 (2015). In 1972, the average age was 27.4 years.

Lead researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg cautions, then, that men who want to become fathers should more heavily consider the implications of their life choices. The Stanford University School of Medicine assistant professor of urology advises: “There is data that a man’s fertility declines with age. As such, it may make sense to not wait too long as it may be more difficult to conceive. In addition, there are some potential risks to children.”

He also notes, “Most data on rising parental ages in the US has been restricted to mothers,” commenting that this also makes sense because mothers are usually the ones who collect birth certificate data. “We wanted to examine trends in paternal demographics based on the data available on birth certificates since the 1970s.”

In addition, the rate of newborn’s fathers aged 40 or older has doubled (from roughly 4 percent to nearly 9 percent). At the same time, the rate of new dads aged 50 or older increased from half a percent to about one percent (so, double).

Eisenberg also concludes noting that, at the end of the day, paternal age in the United Stage has increased “across all race/ethnicities, educational attainment levels, and regions of the country,” although some regional differences do exist. That said, some regional differences exist, with the Northeastern and the Western states showing the highest average paternal ages.

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