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article imageBecoming a father at a young age linked to an earlier death

By Tim Sandle     Aug 6, 2015 in Science
Helsinki - Becoming a father at a younger age is, surprisingly, linked to several ill-health effects. There is also an association with dying earlier, sometimes in middle age. A new study highlights previously unknown risks.
A warning for those thinking of getting together and having a child at a young age, at least for men. A new study, from the University of Helsinki, suggests that becoming a father before the age of 25 correlates with a higher chance of succumbing to an illness and dying whilst in middle age.
To draw this conclusion, a study has been carried out by academics based in Finland. The data used was drawn from the 1950 Finnish Census. Here, the researchers selected 10 percent of the population who completed the census at this time and examined the patterns for men born between 1940 and 1950.
What interested the researchers, Live Science notes, was men born between 1940 and 1950, who became fathers by the age of 45. Drawing out these figures, the researchers tracked the 30,500 men from the age of 45 until death or age 54, and assessed mortality data. Of the data set around 15 percent had fathered their first child by the age of 22; 29 percent by the age of 24; 18 percent by the age of 25. The remaining 38 percent of men became fathers after the age of 26, with the majority of these becoming dads between the ages of 30 and 44.
Over the years of data assessment, around 1 in 20 people died. The majority died from heart disease, with the second major category being alcohol abuse. Looking at the different ages of fatherhood it was found that:
Those who became fathers by 22 years of age had a 26 percent greater risk of death in mid-life compared with men who had fathered their first child when aged 25 or 26.
Men who had their first child between the ages of 22 and 24 had a 14 percent higher risk of dying in middle age.
Those who became fathers between the ages of 30 and 44 had a 25 percent lower risk of death in middle age when compared with those who fathered their first child between the ages of 25 or 26.
The reasons for these patterns is uncertain. The research group speculate that young men face more intense psychological and economic stresses, which leads to ill health in later life. Dr. Einiƶ, the lead research, told Medical News Today: "Despite the responsibilities of fatherhood, young fathers, who reside with their child, should find the time for good health behaviors, such as physical exercise to improve their future health."
While interesting the results relate to one country only - Finland, and here there will be certain environmental and socio-economic factors at play. Moreover, the data relates to a certain period of time and since the 1950's a greater variety of food is available and medical science has advanced considerably. Nevertheless, there could be something in the figures and the findings may well trigger similar studies looking at different populations across different time periods.
The research findings have been issued in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The research is headed "Is young fatherhood causally related to midlife mortality? A sibling fixed-effect study in Finland."
More about middle aged men, Fathers, young dads, Dads, Pops
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