"New Scientist Magazine reports on findings that suggest that delaying fatherhood may increase the risk of fathering children with disorders such as Apert syndrome, Autism and Schizophrenia. The article reports that 'although there is a big increase in risk for many disorders, it's a big increase in a very small risk. A 40-year-old is about 50 per cent more likely to father an autistic child than a 20-year-old is, for instance, but the overall risk is only about 1 per cent to start with.' In other words: time to start mating before those tadpoles turn into toads."
Okay, I'd heard of Autism [wikipedia.org] and Schizophrenia [wikipedia.org], but had never heard of Apert Syndrome. For the curious: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apert_syndrome [wikipedia.org].
Apert syndrome is a form of acrocephalosyndactyly, a congenital disorder characterized by malformations of the skull, face, hands and feet. It is classified as a branchial arch syndrome, affecting the first branchial (or pharyngeal) arch, the precursor of the maxilla and mandible. Disturbances in the development of the branchial arches in fetal development create lasting and widespread effects.
Have just started reading it, but thought I could help save some Soylents' searching. The pictures of one manifestation are quite helpful.
Apert Syndrome is a step Apert from Autism and Schizophrenia...
This is similar to the maternal age effect which shows a correlation with chromosomal abnormalities including Down Syndrome. [wikipedia.org]
I wonder if this is an evolutionary 'benefit' in a way. For eons, women had many children from their teen years on. If they managed to have a child with one of these problems, it didn't affect the passing forward of the mother's genes. Could the Downs child be reproductive nature's retirement plan, helping to take care of the mother?
i think it is rather an evolutionary artifact. our average life expectancy runs past our evolutionary grooming. if teenage moms were the norm, there would be no way to select for/against a disease that occurred when someone was in their 40s.
Ok, There was this egg that turned into a chicken.
Genetic change is what happens.
I like eggs.
Old sperm is corrupt with change.
Bring on the next.
As I understand it, the general trend in the West is towards people marrying and having children at older ages than previous generations. I wonder how many generations it will take before we would start to see any reduction in disorders correlated with the age of the parents?I'm assuming that reproduction is still currently skewed in favour of young parents, as historically speaking, people lived shorter lives, so would've had less chance to become old parents, and there would be less opportunity for genetic traits related to longevity to be expressed.
When you consider that Western women are more interested in money than having children, Western men don't have money if they can't find work, and Western hiring practices favor giving jobs to women instead of men, the general trend in the West is toward extinction.
I see there is a lot of bitterness in your comment, which I'm just going to ignore. You should know that there are also men who don't want kids. I am intentionally childfree (as distinguished from "childless" -- a term that suggests lack). I always knew I didn't want to have kids and so I didn't. I got cured of my ability to cause infantile infestations in females 10 years ago, and it was probably one of the very best decisions I ever made.
As for extinction, we're growing our population exponentially -- if there is an extinction event for humans, I would bet it is much more likely to be caused by overbreeding rather than the few like me who choose to avoid the whole parenthood bit.
>> we're growing our population exponentiallyThat is no longer true. Population growth rates globally, and especially in Western countries have been dropping for years. In some countries, such as Japan, Russia, and Germany, it is negative.
For every child that's not been born in Japan, Russia, and Germany, a dozen have been born in India, Indonesia, Nigeria, or even China[*]
Population growth rates globally have been dropping, indeed, but whilst that rate remains above zero, even by the tiniest fraction, we've *still got exponential growth*.
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. (google that)
[* That dozen figure is completely pulled from arse, it's probably enormously higher, probably three figures, I'm just playing it safe.]
Imagine this equation:y = 2x
As x (time), increases, y (population) increases. In this function the growth rate of y is ALWAYS above zero and constantly decreasing. This is a linear function, not an exponential one.
Nope, that growth rate tends to 0.
Oh, and did I mention that the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.
Do you know of any other species that is better at it? Any other species that can do math at all?
Out of the species that have developed birth control - all of them apart from the humans.
You are correct. The growth rate tends towards zero.
It also always stays above zero. And it is also not exponential.
+1 for childfree. Or "childfree by choice" when talking to people unfamiliar with the concept that some of us have no interest in making little clones of ourselves. Fortunately the term seems to be gaining some traction, so it doesn't need the full description so often.
We have more money left at the end of the month, and *way* more time all the time, than our peers who have sprogged. Then again, we're now living in a nett-NPG country, and most of our peers are not breeding either. (The last country I lived in was breederific in comparison.)
Don't get the impression that I'm a baby-murderer who opens his car door to take out prams on the pavement as he drives down the road. I'd be willing to bet that the 2nd largest recipient of my charitable donations for the last few years have been a chain of childrens homes.
If you don't want people who choose to have children to be disparaging to you for your child free choice, then you probably should choose a different term than breeder. Most find it offensive.
Infinitive: breed;Agent noun: breeder
Are you saying that breeding is offensive to them?
Well, that escalated quickly.
If anything, a culture that discouraged reproduction, means that those that do reproduce would have a higher genetic disposition towards doing so. So even if there was a problem, it would eventually fix itself.
The real truth is that more educated and well-off populations tend to reproduce less.
The strongest and most telling correlation is with the level of education of the females. And that doesn't just hold between populations, but within them.
Wow, stereotype much?
Western hiring practices favor giving jobs to women instead of men
If we're talking about the US, those practices must not be working, because (according to the BLS [bls.gov], there are ~75 million adult American men working, and only ~66 million adult American women working. In addition, a big reason for the disparity is women delaying their careers to raise children - the US system strongly encourages one parent to go back to work as soon as possible after having a child, and because men on average earn more than women that parent is usually the child's father.
There's also a big difference between gradual population decline seen in some countries in Europe, and extinction. If a country was really worried about that, they could simply loosen up legal immigration and after a few years have a whole bunch of new citizens who are overjoyed to be there.
The women's movement was a boon to the rich. The labor market almost doubled with women's influx, and supply and demand drove down wages. The shame is, when women were first liberated, men should have been, too. In the early days, it was a woman's choice whether or not to work, but a man was expected to hold a job, and even today if you're a stay at home dad you're looked at in askanse, and it's gotten so that everyone, man or woman, is expected to toil away creating wealth for the rich.
A child, especially a young child, needs a parent at home. I would have loved to stay home and watch the kids; my kids and I were always close and I enjoyed being "dad" more than any other role I've ever had in life.
We need to go back to one breadwinner per family, and IMO it doesn't matter whether Mom or Dad stays home and who works. I'm old enough to remember when most women raised kids, and have seen that child care is harming our society. The only people who should need child care are single parents. The Unites Staes needs a labor shortage!!
Guys, let the old lady work, stay home and raise the kids. You don't need a McMansion and an F-150. I mean, is your self-worth so little that you need money to feel important?
Alas, the greedsters have killed any chance of you young folks ever having a better life.
That would only work if we used disorders as selectors. For example, if people with these disorders were disqualified from breeding. If there is no selector, there is no evolution ;)
Some selector is almost always at play. Even if just in sexual selection. While I'm sure age plays a part in the increase in disorders I also wonder how much the parent carrying the disorder is related to having kids at a latter age. People with social disorders, even if mild, may reproduce less likely or when they do, may reproduce later in life. There may be more than one thing at play here.
Natural selection is not just complex, but often counterintuitive. Consider the gene for sickle cell anemia and malaria immunity. If you inherit the gene from one parent, it confers immunity to malaria. If you inherit the gene from both parents, it confers sickle cell anemia. In malaria prone environments, it was common that everyone who survived to adulthood had one copy of the gene. Children of two such parents had a 25% chance of not getting the gene, and likely dying in childhood of malaria, a 25% chance of getting two copies of the gene, and likely dying in childhood of anemia, and a 50% chance of getting one copy of the gene, and maybe living to adulthood. The gene is a mixed blessing at best, but it is strongly selected for in malarial environments, and strongly selected against anywhere else.It is quite possible that any particular undesirable genetic trait is being held in the gene pool by some desirable trait, to which it happens to be linked.
Indeed, there are significant birth defect risks when the father or the mother [telegraph.co.uk] are advanced in age.
Bang out some kids when you are 20, they will be healthy and poor. Wait till you can afford to house and feed them, run the risk of defects?
>>>Bang out some kids when you are 20, they will be healthy and poor. Wait till you can afford to house and feed them, run the risk of defects?
How about banging out some kids with a 20yr old woman while I'm in my 40's. You'll get the best of both worlds....among other benefits.
I guess you didn't read TFS.
If you can't find a living wage job to house and feed your family when you're 20, your society is broken.
I think that label fits. What can we do about it?
Yes. Yes it is.
Perhaps in the near future it will be recommended to save genetic material from when you're in your prime, to be used when financially ready. Perhaps a bit trans-humanistic, but not too far removed from in vitro.
Voice of experience here, having disabled kids is the least of your worries if you're going to be an older parent. I had my first kid when I was 35 and my ex-wife was 30. My oldest daughter's autistic. Younger daughter is two years younger and gifted (takes after her old man).
When you're 20 it's not all that hard to get up at 3:00 AM to feed and diaper the baby, hell, when I was 20 I'd drink 'til 3 and show up at work bright and bushy tailed. But at 35 it's hell. It would be worse at 40. By the time my kids were grown I was over 50. My daughters are delaying their parenthood as well, so it's unlikely I'll ever meet any grandchildren I may have, and if I live long enough to they won't remember me.
Have 'em young. Just don't have more than two.
Those in their prime breeding years tend to have relatively few health problems, as it directly influences how well they pass on their genes. Evolution has much less driving it to weed out health problems that only afflict the old. (Yes, there are kin selection advantages from having grandparents around to help out, but if you reproduce at 20 then the grandparents are only 40.)
Unless, of course, some small fraction of older people still reproduce. We're tending to delay childbearing in many societies. That may over the very long term help to weed out some of the early onset aging problems we have. Like the major ramping up in heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease that starts in the 40s.
Perhaps in a few thousand years we'll even start to see a delay in the onset of menopause to a later age.
In a few thousand years, menopause will occur at the same age as it does now, and the foolish golddiggers who waited too long to bear children will have been removed from the gene pool by their inevitable deaths. Delaying childbearing until after menopause is a serious sociological problem, but it is not a biological problem.
I'm wondering if another woman is the answer we really need.
In other news, the consumption of H20 has been linked to death.
Enjoyed reading a well written and logical article on technical papers with peer-reviewed references to back it up (albeit some of them are behind pay-wall ex: articles in Nature Genetics).
That new mutations occur in aging man's sperm is the data; that these mutations affect RAS-pathway in Apert syndrome is data; that RAS affects cell division and proliferation is data. But saying such mutations contribute to enlarged brain/complex psychiatric disorders/(insert your favorite worry here), and may be of concern to the human species due to later child-bearing by men is a leap of faith; it needs data. The article itself makes it clear (on page 3) - the large increase in risk should be kept in perspective, the original risk is pretty rare to begin with. These are really early days in the genetics field about the effect of age on health of progeny; data is accumulating slowly, more so for fathers than for mothers. So I would say there is not sufficient data to panic yet.
Article is worth a read, compliments to the writer and submitter.