June 11, 2012 at 2:02 PM ET
A new study has found that delaying fatherhood may provide health benefits to a man’s children and grandchildren. Researchers studied telomeres, the tiny biological caps that protect the ends of chromosomes from degrading with disease and aging. When it comes to telomeres, the longer the better. (Just like a man to assume that something’s better just because it’s longer, but this is science!)
While women’s aging eggs are more likely to cause problems for their offspring than boost health and longevity, sperm apparently get better with age. In most cell types, telomeres get shorter over time, but in sperm they lengthen. Therefore, men who father children later in life pass on longer telomeres than men who reproduce earlier. And this one genetic gift can pay off for generations.
Delaying fatherhood is good for children? I predict this will make many men smile — while they’re double-checking the birth control.
In addition to protecting against future cell degeneration, late arrival dads enjoy other distinct benefits throughout the active parenting years.
10 perks of delaying fatherhood:
Science may help us understand biological advantages, but are those really so valuable? The best gift a man can bestow on his children and their children is the experience of his years, and we don’t need any studies to prove that wisdom develops with age. As we celebrate fathers young and old, let us commend them for their unique offerings — regardless of the length of their telomeres.
Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA. Her writing is featured regularly in family and parenting magazines throughout the United States and Canada. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and life-after-40 at After the Bubbly.