So you'll know how you baby fluids will turn out when they actually form into a human being.
Men, it's not only women's age that can affect offspring's health! Yours can, too! Yes, a father’s age do have similar effects as mother's. Increasing evidence show how older dads can risk their children's health via epigenetic tags on their sperm's DNA by altering the genes' activeness. Moreover, one's lifestyle can make such epigenetic changes.
“The hope is that we could potentially screen people and say, ‘your sperm is really old’, and identify risks for the offspring,” says Tim Jenkins at the University of Utah.
Jenkins and his colleagues looked into 350 men's sperm and see certain genetic switches. They found changes at 147 points in the genome that may be due to a man’s age. With this, they developed a “calculator” aimed to assess the state of a sperm's DNA at these 147 sites. This has an approximately 95 percent accuracy and may even show you if the sperm have aged prematurely.
“For a 40-year-old man who smokes, our calculator would calculate him to be 44 or so,” says Jenkins. However, the changes' contribution to increased risk to autism and schizophrenia is still uncertain.
“The emphasis on smoking has always been on the mother’s side,” Carroll says. “But it’s becoming more evident that exposures in men can alter health. It’s not just about how sperm swim or what they look like – there are changes at the molecular level which can affect the offspring.”
“If you have a male in his 30s or 40s who has a sperm age in the 50s or 60s, you’d have to look at why that is,” says Carroll. “If you could change those factors, you could possibly reverse the clock.”
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