12/06/2012 14:35 BST | Updated 12/06/2012 15:59 BST

Children Of Older Dads ‘Live Longer' Research Claims

Men who have delayed fatherhood may finally have some good news, after a recent study suggests that children of older men may live longer as a result.

Research from Northwestern University discovered that telomeres (the tips on the end of chromosomes that prevent DNA damage) could hold the secret as to why some people live longer than others.

As we age, our telomeres shorten and generally the smaller their length, the shorter your life expectancy.

older father

However, scientists have discovered that in sperm, the opposite is true and telomeres lengthen with age.

The research, led by Dr Dan Eisenberg from the Department of Anthropology, found that the older a man is when he becomes a father, the longer the telomeres his children tend to have.

Researchers claim that the genetic code (DNA) in an older man's sperm (that favours a longer life) may get passed onto his children, who are likely to pass it onto their own children and so on.

"This suggests delayed paternal reproduction can lead to cumulative, multi-generational increases in telomere length in descendants, which could promote longevity," Dan Eisenberg said in a statement.


During the study, researchers analysed the DNA of 1,779 young adults aged between 15 and 43 years old. Telomeres were measured in blood samples and found to be longer in male participants who fathered children later in life.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University, was the first to discover the link between teleomeres and life expectancy in 2009.

A previous study published in Nature journal claimed that older fathers are at a higher risk of having a child with autism, reports

Each time sperm-creating cells copy themselves, there is a chance a mutation will occur - and so, the study suggests, older men have an increased chance of passing these on.

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