Older fathers in your generation tend to be healthiest in middle age

Over the years, men who waited until their mid-20s to have their first child tended to report the best health in middle age, compared to those who started a family earlier.

But, among your generation, those who delayed fatherhood until their mid-30s appeared to be the healthiest in midlife.

What we asked you

Between ages 16 and 42 you let us know whether you had started a family. We then asked you to report on your health at age 42.

The research also took into account a range of information we collected from you including your childhood social background, and health habits in adulthood.

What the research found

Researchers from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science and University of Helsinki compared your responses with similar information taken from a cohort born 12 years earlier, in 1958, to look at how the timing of fatherhood mattered for midlife health across different generations.

They found that men who had their first child before age 20 reported the poorest midlife health across both groups, compared to those who began fatherhood between ages 25-29.

But among your generation, those of you who had your first child after age 35 had the best midlife health. Among the 1958 generation, older fathers weren’t any healthier than those who had their first child in their mid to late 20s.

Older fathers in your generation were less likely to be obese and to smoke daily, which increased their odds of better midlife health.

Why this research is important

The report said: “Young fathers continue to be a risk group that might benefit from policy interventions. For example, young fathers and their children could benefit from support provided by professionals working in social and health care.”

Find out more about this research

The full scientific paper was published in SSM-Population Health in August 2019.
You can access a free version of this research paper through the UCL repository.