Friday, May 11, 2007

Dad after 40

Having a baby in Mid 40’s is not for faint hearted guys. Perhaps, that’s what my friend Subba Iyer may have meant when he said ‘it’s bold and courageous decision ’.

As I look back at my decision that took few years to crystallize and fructify, it now dawns upon me that I am not alone in this ‘so called’ bold move. There seem to be distinct trend toward older dads. For men 40 to 44 years old, the number of live baby births per 1,000 men increased from 17.1 to 23.4. For men 45 to 49, the number of births increased from 6.1 to 7.6. For men 50 to 54 years, the number increased from 2.2 to 2.5. The only category where there wasn't an increase was men 55 and older that have the same: 0.3 births per 1,000 men.

Have the figures become skewed after celebrities set up this trend of becoming dad at older age? Tony Blair (at 45), Ken Livingstone (57), Mick Jagger (57), Phil Collins (51), Rupert Murdoch (72), Michael Douglas (58), Gordon Brown (54), Rod Stewart (60), Paul McCartney (61), Eric Clapton (at 59), Charlie Chaplin (73), Anthony Quinn (81) Pablo Picasso (68) and Luciano Pavarotti (twins at 67) and we have our very own illustrations : When Mahatma Gandhi was born, his father was 48 years old and his mother was in her early twenties .Gosh!!! I am in league of rich and famous.

I must admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the flip side of this bold decision. Though I knew about the risk associated with pregnancy associated with advancing age of mothers, I never realized that genetic traits of the father could also play an important role in creating a child with susceptibility to autism, schizophrenia. The figures show that children of fathers in their 40s have more than five times the risk of developing autism, and children of fathers in their 50s have more than nine times the risk. Ignorance was indeed blissful else I would have had very stressful period while our baby was preparing to descend.

But everything is not gloomy for fathers after 40. The study titled Advancing Age, Advantaged Youth: proclaim that parents 35 and older were more likely to pass on cultural, economic and social resources to their children. One older dad summed up in most succinct manner “I'm more financially secure than I've ever been so I can provide the basics for my children. And when college expenses start to hit, at least I'll be eligible for senior citizen discounts at restaurants.” Other one says, “It’s so pleasant, Now that I’m retired, we have a lot more time together.” My friend who has become father at 45 said “I no longer need to scramble up the professional ladder. I have plenty of time to see my child grow up.” Three quarters of British people believe children can benefit from older dads' greater maturity (76%), wisdom (76%) and experience (75%). And over half (54%) also think advancing years bring greater patience in fatherhood. While two thirds (67%) said that older fathers have more time to devote to their offspring.

But all in all, I feel, it’s a wonderful idea of becoming a father when you have crossed 40 but one must be aware of the fact that with the first sign of trouble with the father’s health, things may go rapidly downhill.

I agree, it’s not for faint hearted guys!!!

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