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Data are scarce on trends in paternal age, which perhaps explains why the correlation between paternal age and birth defects went undetected for so long. And, of course, "nobody likes to think that they're aging," says Dr. Fisch. "Certainly men. They were on the throne, they were the kings: 'We don't age, we stay fertile longer than women, we can have babies into our 90s....' Men live in denial."
Older fathers made headlines several years ago when researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported that a man over 40 is almost six times as likely as a man under 30 to father an autistic child. Since then, research has shown that a man's chances of fathering offspring with schizophrenia double when he hits 40 and triple at age 50. The incidence of bipolarity, epilepsy, prostate cancer and breast cancer also increases in children born to men approaching 40.
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