Whilst the average age of fathering a child is 32, recent figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics show that in 2004 more than 75,000 babies were born to fathers aged 40 and over - more than one in ten of all children born.Further, around 6,489 children a year are born to fathers aged fifty-plus.In 2008 nearly two-thirds (63% of babies) were fathered by men aged 30 or over.
Whilst the topic of "older fathers" is increasingly making headlines, what is perhaps less well-known is that there can be risks - both physical and mental - associated with fathering offspring later in life.
Recent research revealed that compared to younger dads, fathers in the older age group were more inclined to be less tolerant of their children's physical activities, perceiving them to be more impulsive and overactive.
Older dads apparently also show less affection and warmth towards their partner.
[Read about this study] In July 2008, French scientists reported on a study of over 12,200 couples having fertility treatment and said they had found more evidence that men as well as women have biological clocks, and that they start to tick in their mid-30s.
They said that their eveidence suggested that the chance of a successful pregnancy falls when the man is aged over 35, and the chance is significantly lower if he is over 40.
Couples who had sought treatment for infertility at the Eylau Centre for Assisted Reproduction in Paris between January 2002 and December 2006 were the basis for the study.[Read more about this study] A study recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry concludes that the offspring of older fathers have a significantly increased risk of autism.The team of UK and US researchers said that children born to men over 40 had a six times higher risk than those born to men under 30.They also said the study was further proof men also had "biological clocks".The mother's age did not appear to influence the chances a child would have autism, although previous studies into this have produced mixed results.The incidences of certain rare birth disorders, such as Dwarfism, or achondroplasia (a genetic disorder that affects bone growth and is the most common growth-related birth defect.