Significant study has indicated that becoming a dad before the age of 25 increases the risk of dying early in middle age. The evidence suggests that men who father a child in early life have poorer health and die earlier than men who delay fatherhood.
Family environment, early socioeconomic circumstances and genes can explain this association, researchers noted.
"The findings provide evidence of a need to support young fathers struggling with the demands of family life in order to promote good health behaviors and future health," the authors noted in the study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
To reach this conclusion, the researchers used a 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.
The average age at which a man became a dad was 25-26 and men in this age bracket were used as a reference. The researchers took account of factors such as educational attainment and region of residence, marital status and number of children.
Men who were dads by the time they were 22 had a 26 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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. "The promotion of good health behaviors in young fathers can support healthy behavior in their children too," the authors suggested.