London - Chaps, if your partner is broody but you want to wait, it may be worth reconsidering…
Older fathers are more likely to produce ugly children, scientists believe.
Genetic mutations that develop in older men’s genes are already known to increase the risk of autism and schizophrenia.
But research now suggests the changes may also affect a child’s appearance.
The study is the latest to challenge the idea that only a mother’s biological clock is important to a child’s health.
“We found a significant negative effect between paternal age and people’s facial attractiveness,” said anthropologist Martin Fieder.
“The age of the father at conception is not only a determinant of the risk for certain diseases but also predicts facial attractiveness.
“The effect is very visible. Someone born to a father of 22 is already five to 10 percent more attractive than those with a 40-year-old father and the difference grows with the age gap.”
However, children born to older men are more likely to live longer, it is claimed.
Professor Lee Smith, a geneticist at Edinburgh University, told the Sunday Times that other research found such children have longer telomeres – the caps on the end of chromosomes – which are associated with longer life.
Dr Fielder, of Vienna University, led a study which compared photographs of 4 018 men and 4 416 women. Six men and six women were shown the pictures and asked to rate the men and women’s attractiveness.
Those with older fathers were consistently rated less attractive than those with younger fathers.
The root of the problem is thought to lie in the loss of sperm-producing cells’ ability to copy a man’s DNA exactly. Errors creep in as a man gets older, which are then passed on to his child.
Dr Fieder said: “Every 16 years the mutation rate doubles.
“Other researchers found 25 mutations per sperm in a 20-year-old, but at age 40 it is 65 mutations. By 56 it doubles again.” Some 15 percent of British children are now born to men over 40.
Older fathers in showbusiness include Simon Cowell, 54, whose son Eric was born last month, Frank Skinner, whose son Buzz Cody was born in 2012 when he was 55 and Rod Stewart, whose eighth child, Aiden, was born in 2011 when he was 66.
The link between paternal age and the risk of children developing gene-based illnesses was highlighted by a recent study of families in Iceland.
The study, published by the journal Nature, showed how the number of gene mutations carried by a child grew with the age of their father.
It said that a 40-year-old father is about twice as likely to conceive a child that develops autism or schizophrenia as a 20-year-old – although the overall risk remained low. - Daily Mail