A study by Stanford University has added its voice to the conversation on the ideal age for marriage, as it shows that babies with older fathers are more at risk of facing health issues at birth.
Published on Wednesday on Stanford’s BM Journal, the research paper says babies born to advanced fathers older than 35 are at more risk of health issues ranging from seizures to low birth weight, among other health challenges.
Data from more than 40 million births were collected for the study which also suggests that the age of the father can affect the health of the mother during pregnancy, with her risk of developing diabetes being higher.
Men who are 45 or older are 14% more likely to have a child born prematurely, the study says. Also, men who are 50 or older are 28% more likely to have a child that will be admitted at the neonatal intensive care unit.
The researchers were however quick to add that this was an observational research as opposed to a cause-and-effect study.
What this means is that the researchers simply took notes of how the trend goes and did not carry out experiments. These kinds of research are the ones done mainly in marketing and social sciences, as against actual scientific experiments.
Had it been an Experimental Research, environmental factors would have been controlled to ensure there are no interfering factors and if there is, the researcher computes the extent to which such factors affected the result.
The paper, however, stated that it adjusted for mothers’ age, maternal smoking, race, education, and other factors.
Small & Relevant
While the paper pointed out that the overall absolute risks of these outcomes still remained low, and hence people do not have to change their original life plan, it emphasized the importance of including men in preconception care, without clearly saying how a man’s involvement in preconception will undo the effect of his age on the child.
In 2013, a report by the National Marriage Project found that people between the ages of 20-28 years are more likely to see themselves as “highly satisfied” if they are married as opposed to when they are single or in a relationship. Also, women who get married before 26 are more likely to describe their marriage as “very happy”.
In 2010, a study published by the US National Institute of Health found that the greatest indicated likelihood of being in an intact marriage of the highest quality is among those who married at ages before 25.
Marrying early for men has also been linked to better income. The American Community Survey data from 2008 to 2010 shows how, of men in their mid-30s, those who married in their 20s had the highest levels of personal income. Many Economists have said that married men earn more than single men, regardless of age and education.
Couples who marry early are also said to have regular intimacy compared to those who married late. In a 2011 paper, Dana Rotz of Harvard University observed that “a four-year increase in age at marriage is associated with a couple having sex about one-time less per month.” The research also discovered that married people have more intimacy than their single counterparts.