Women have taken the blame for a lot over the years in regards to pregnancy, sex of the child and overall health. Wives were often divorced or sent away if they failed to produce an heir, despite the fact as we know now, that it is the father’s sperm that determines a child’s sex. The New Yorker put out an article claiming even more involvement on behalf of the father. There is a theory that the father’s age could be a huge contributing factor to genetic abnormalities like autism, schizophrenia and even IQ.
So what does this mean? Well, as our society expands and grows we have prolonged the quality and length of our lives so definitely that it has become the new normal to begin procreation at later ages. Couples are often choosing to settle into marriage later, begin careers and put off having a family. While this is a sensible practice for many, it might give some clue into the rising prevalence of some genetic disorders. Women are born with a finite number of eggs that are already predetermined in their genetic code. Men, who produce sperm throughout their lives, are constantly…eh, let’s say, restocking the supply. Each time this happens, the cells have a greater likelihood of mutation the same way that as we age, our chances of certain diseases caused by cellular mutation can increase.
These mutations could be responsible for a variety of things in a child’s health. One of the more alarming insinuations is that not all “mutations” lead to disorders such as autism, but still could be resulting in slight decreases in IQ. If anyone has ever seen Idiocracy, you’ll understand the implications of this trend to our culture. Now, further understanding of genetics could lead to different results or we might be able to better screen for this in fathers over a certain age as we do for mothers over 40. One thing I can see from this? It might be that women start leaving for the younger man instead of the traditional version.