Dating an older guy? You may want to have the baby-making convo earlier than you'd planned. The reason: older men are more likely to pass on genetic mutations that increase their kidsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ risk of autism and schizophrenia, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.
In the study, researchers analyzed the genes of 78 trios of mother-father-child in which the parents had no mental disorders, but the child had autism or schizophrenia. Researchers found that the average child born to a father when heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 20 years old had 25 random mutations whereas a 40-year-old dad passed on 65 mutations, on average. (Mothers passed on an average of 15 mutations no matter their age.) According to the findings, about 20 to 30 percent of cases of autism in recent decades may be due to dads having kids later in life.
So should you dump your guy for someone younger or convince him to freeze his swimmers? Not so fast, says licensed family counselor M. Gary Neuman, author of Connect to Love: The Keys to Transforming Your Relationship. What you should do: If you know you want to have children find out his thoughts on kids ASAP. Here are three keys to keep in mind when bringing up the B-word.
Discuss a specific time frame. If he says he wants to have kids, ask him when heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to have one by. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Saying Ã¢â‚¬ËœsoonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cut it because it may mean very different things to both of you,Ã¢â‚¬Â Neuman says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Instead of asking for a deadline, ask for a ballpark so you can be sure youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re on the same page and use the information he gives you to make a decision about the relationship.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Emphasize your age more than his. The research showing that menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s age plays a role in the risk of mental disorders in kids is still relatively new, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s well researched that the risk of Down syndrome increases with a womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s age. (The risk of having a child with Down syndrome is 1 in 1,300 for a 25-year-old woman and 1 in 30 by age 45, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.) Ã¢â‚¬Å“You can tell him that just like you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t smoke or drink when pregnant in order to have the healthiest possible outcome, having a child by a certain age is a factor in doing as much as you can to create a healthy baby.Ã¢â‚¬Â (Are you already late to the game? Here's how to protect your fertility so you can get pregnant over 40.)
Focus on the relationship. Discussing children when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still dating can be a difficult conversation to have, but it can ultimately bring you closer together and deepen your relationship, Neuman says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ask him what he thinks about children, whether he thinks his parents had children too young or too old, and what he pictures for his future family.Ã¢â‚¬Â These sorts of questions and the discussion they evoke create a much more meaningful conversation than demanding a timeline. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They may also help you communicate that you want to have kids with him rather than you want kids by a certain time and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s your best shot,Ã¢â‚¬Â Neuman adds. (Tip: donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t clue him into the fact that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already picked out names for your three nonexistent children!)
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