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Surprising Science

Teen Dads Risk Passing Genetic Mutations to Their Kids

New research indicates babies born of teen dads have an increased risk of birth defects.

Maggie Fox from NBC News reports that babies born of teen dads have an increased risk of birth defects. For very young parents, researchers say that the risk of mutation increases by 30 percent. Of course, that’s a 1.5 percent risk bumped up to 2 percent risk. Still, people will usually opt for the better odds concerning the health and wellness of their children.

The research comes from Dr. Peter Forster of the University of Cambridge in Britain who led the study. His team didn’t skimp on the data either; researchers looked into more than 24,000 parents and their offspring, ranging from age 10 to 70. In cases where the father of the child was 20 years or younger, the researchers found the child had many more mutations than those with older dads.

The risk of defects is comparatively low, but it would explain why mutations tend to occur more often in teen parents. Foster told NBC:

“However, for policymakers an increase in birth defects of half a percent across the population is a serious matter, and policymakers should continue to discourage teenage parenthood.”

So, why are young fathers passing on these mutations more than older ones? Foster believes it has something to do with the germ cells. Women carry all the eggs they’ll ever have from birth, whereas men continue to produce fresh sperm regularly.

There may be a connection with mutations and the sperm precursor cells, which men carry throughout their lives. There’s still more research to be done on the subject, but the main take-away from this research is that men looking to procreate should do so between the ages of 20 to 35 in order to avoid a heightened risk of mutation.

Read more at NBC News.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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