In the past, we’d reported that older dads may make kids with lower IQs, and that the male biological clock is set to 41. Well, Captain Science is at it again, and this week’s news is that older fathers might make healthier kids – and grandkids.
These findings were presented in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (we know, we know…you get it in the mail along with The New Yorker) by Dan T. A. Eisenberg, M. Geoffrey Hayes and Christopher W. Kuzawa. The researchers found that although these little biological things we have in our DNA called telomeres shorten as we get old, men who wait to have kids until they’re older tend to bestow longer telomeres to two generations of descendents.
Telomeres, as the study says, “are repeating DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that protect and buffer genes from nucleotide loss as cells divide.” They basically act as a buffer on the end of chromosomes that stops them from deteriorating and/or fusing with other chromosomes. The bigger the buffer, the better your health. If my Wikipedia reading is correct, shorter telomeres mean faster and more cellular decay in old age, or bad sh*t in your silver years.
Quoth the study: “in this sample, grandchildren of older paternal grandfathers at the birth of fathers have longer telomeres…independent of, and additive to, the association of their father’s age at birth with [telomere length].”
What’s interesting is that the study (which was done in the Philippines) was broken up into different parts – first, researchers checked blood samples from 2,000 people and concluded that older dads give their kids longer telomeres. But then they checked more blood samples and came to the multi-generational idea that telomeres were effected not just in the kids, but also grandkids.
There was no significant effect from the maternal father.
Other studies have had more grim results, finding, as we mentioned above, that men’s biological clock hits f**k-sh*t-o-clock at 41, that older dads can give their kids lower IQs, and that older dads risk having autistic or bipolar kids. This new study may not be the definitive go-ahead to having kids after your plums turn to prunes, so don’t go blaming us if you’re older and get hopeful after reading this story.