Young fathers die younger

Here’s an article from the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health about the implied stresses and strains of being a young father. It seems that men who become fathers under the age of 25 have a higher risk of dying in middle-age than those who become fathers when older. It seems fairly obvious that those between 30 and 44 are far more likely to have stable economics in the home and the wherewithal to support a family, than young men of 25. Considering also that the development of the cognitive faculties – especially those of judgement – are not fully developed till the age of 25, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that the stresses of fatherhood are more debilitating on the young than on the older. But I had not thought that these stresses were sufficient to be visible as an increase in the mid-life mortality rate.

The conclusions that I draw are that young men under 25 are first to be discouraged from setting up families. Secondly young fathers probably need more societal support for some 4 or 5 years if they do take on the burdens of a family. Possibly young fathers received far more support from their parents and relatives in the pre-industrial world.

“the association between young fatherhood and mid life mortality is likely to be causal”

Elina Einiö, Jessica Nisén, Pekka Martikainen. Is young fatherhood causally related to midlife mortality? A sibling fixed-effect study in Finland. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2015; jech-2015-205627 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2015-205627

Press Release:

Becoming a dad before the age of 25 is linked to a heightened risk of dying early in middle age, indicates a sibling study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The published evidence suggests that men who father a child in early life have poorer health and die earlier than men who delay fatherhood, but family environment, early socioeconomic circumstances and genes are thought to explain this association.

In a bid to tease out the underlying factors, the researchers used a 10 per cent nationally representative sample of households drawn from the 1950 Finnish Census. This involved more than 30,500 men born between 1940 and 1950, who became fathers by the age of 45. The dads were tracked from the age of 45 until death or age 54, using mortality data for 1985-2005. Some 15% of this sample had fathered their first child by the age of 22; 29% at ages 22-24; 18% when they were 25-26;19% between the ages of 27and 29; and 19% between the ages of 30 and 44. The average age at which a man became a dad was 25-26, and men in this age bracket were used as a reference.

During the 10 year monitoring period around 1 in 20 of the dads died. The primary causes of death were ischaemic heart disease (21%) and diseases related to excess alcohol (16%). Men who were dads by the time they were 22 had a 26% higher risk of death in mid-life than those who had fathered their first child when they were 25 or 26. Similarly, men who had their first child between the ages of 22 and 24 had a 14% higher risk of dying in middle age.

These findings were independent of factors in adulthood or year of birth.

At the other end of the scale, those who became dads between the ages of 30 and 44 had a 25% lower risk of death in middle age than those who fathered their first child at 25 or 26. The risk of death for men fathering their first child between the ages of 27 and 29 was the same as that of men in the reference group. In a subsidiary sample of 1124 siblings, brothers who had become dads by the age of 22 were 73% more likely to die early than their siblings who had fathered their first child at the age of 25 or 26. Similarly, those who entered parenthood at 22-24 were 63% more likely to die in mid life. …… Once again, men who became dads between the ages of 30 and 44 had a 22% lower risk of a mid-life death, although this was statistically the same as those who fathered their first child at 25/26.

“The findings of our study suggest that the association between young fatherhood and mid life mortality is likely to be causal,” write the researchers. “The association was not explained by unobserved early life characteristics shared by brothers or by certain adult characteristics known to be associated both with fertility timing and mortality,” they explain.

They go on to say that although having a child as a young adult is thought to be less disruptive for a man than it is for a woman, taking on the combined role of father, partner and breadwinner may cause considerable psychological and economic stress for a young man and deprive him of the ability to invest in his own wellbeing. The researchers point out that while these factors may not be so important for today’s generation of dads, they may nevertheless experience other types of stressors.


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3 Responses to “Young fathers die younger”

  1. michaelwordpress Says:

    This is intriguing. I have contrastingly heard that younger people conceive children who,are healthier and,have better genes.

    • ktwop Says:

      Yes. There is a genetic risk to children with increasing paternal age. “Children born to fathers 40 or older have nearly a six-fold increase in the risk of autism as compared with kids whose fathers were younger than 30.”
      Of course this article is about the risk of stressors on the long-term health of young fathers.
      There seems to be an optimum between 30 and 40.
      However older fathers tend to be better off economically than younger fathers and their offspring usually have better recourse to education and nourishment and living standards generally.

  2. Robt Livington Says:

    Men who become fathers at a young age are more likely to die in middle age, a study finds. Click Prev or Next to continue viewing images.

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