Robert De Niro has seventh child at 79: Do older dads pose a risk to their offspring?

Robert De Niro has welcomed his seventh child aged 79 years old.

The actor told ET Canada he had become a father again in a recent interview.

Reporter Brittnee Blair noted De Niro’s six kids and he corrected her and said: “Seven, actually. I just had a baby.” Seventy-nine is much older than the average age for a father.

According to data from the Office of National Statistics, the average age of a first-time father in the UK is 33.6 years old.

De Niro is far from the only famous man to father a child into his later years. Mick Jagger welcomed his eight child at 73, while Jeff Goldblum had a son at 62. Bill Joel fathered a child a 65, and Michael Douglas at 58.

READ MORE: Robert De Niro welcomes baby number seven as Hollywood star nears 80th birthday

Are there health risks that come with having an older father?

According to medical science, yes there are. Studies have found a host of risks associated with older fathers.

While men can have children in their later years, whereas women cannot due to the menopause, there are risks to fathering children in later life.

As men age the quality of their sperm decreases for a number of reasons, including lower testosterone and the testicles becoming smaller and softer.

This causes slower sperm that is more often disfigured, meaning higher chances of children having genetic disorders.

Older fathers’ sperm also means a higher risk of brain disorders and mental health issues like autism or schizophrenia.

A study of nearly 400,000 men and women in the 1980s found fathers over 40’s risk of having a child with autism increased almost sixfold.

Older fathers’ children are more likely to be premature, with over 45-year-olds having a 14 percent chance of a premature baby.

Babies born to men over 50 and almost a third more likely to be born prematurely and need neonatal intensive care. These babies are also most likely to have a low birth weight and have a higher risk of seizures.

And it’s not just the babies of older fathers that are put at a greater risk. Women who carry babies by older fathers have a greater chance of needing a C-section.

Hilary K. Brown, a researcher in reproductive public health at the University of Toronto, told the New York Times: “For so many years, it was assumed that advancing age only mattered for women. Paternal age matters as well.

“There needs to be a greater awareness of the man’s responsibility to reproductive health.”

Robert De Niro’s eldest child, Drea, is 51. He is also a father to Raphael, 46, twin sons Aaron and Julian, 27, Elliot, 25, and Helen, 11.

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