The children of older fathers are likely to be less attractive than those of younger parents because of an increased risk of genetic mutations, scientists have found.
Older fathers have less attractive children because of extra genetic mutations in their genes, scientists have found.
Children of older men are already at greater risk of autism, bipolar disorder, low IQ and schizophrenia.
But now researchers have concluded that the impact of mutated genes is so strong it even has an impact on appearance.
“We found a significant negative effect between paternal age and people’s facial attractiveness,” Martin Fieder, an associate professor in anthropology at the University of Vienna told The Sunday Times.
“The effect is very visible. Someone born to a father of 22 is already 5 – 10 per cent more attractive than those with a 40-year-old father and the difference grows with the age gap.”
Researchers asked volunteers to rate the attractiveness of more than 8,000 men and women. When the analysed the results they found people with older fathers were rated less attractive than those with younger fathers. They did not look at the age of mothers.
Women are born with all their eggs, but male sperm is constantly replicating. Each time sperm replicates there is a chance for a mutation in the DNA to occur. As men age, they are also exposed to numerous environmental toxins which have been shown to cause DNA mutations in sperm.
Molecular genetic studies have shown that the sperm of older men have far more mutations than those of younger men.
Over the past 40 years the average age of childbearing in England has been increasing steadily for both men and women.
According to the Office for National Statistics the average woman gives birth just a week short of her 30th birthday while first-time mothers are also older, at just over 28. The average age of fathers is now 32 years and six months.
However many men are still having children into their 50s and 60s. Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, had his second son James aged 55, while Sir Paul McCartney fathered his daughter Beatrice aged 61
Prof Fielder said the findings do not mean every child born to an older father would be ugly, as appearance is heavily dependant on how attractive a parent was in the first place.
And Professor Lee Smith, of Edinburgh University, said that the children of older fathers often lived longer because they had longer telomeres – the protective caps at the end of chromosomes which prevent damage.
“Longer telomeres are associated with longer life, so it could be that, despite the mutations, they will live longer.”
Source: The Telegraph