A UK bioethicist is recommending all 18-year-olds freeze their sperm to be used later in life to avoid the potential health risks that come with fathering a child at an older age.
According to a study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry as cited by the The New York Times, recent research has shown that late fatherhood is more likely to lead to children with “a range of mental difficulties, including bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia”.
Dr. Kevin Smith argues in the Journal of Medical Ethics that this “trend of later fatherhood” will “[reduce] human fitness in the long term,” and that “these risks suggest that paternal age is of ethical importance.”
His solution is that “sperm could be taken (on a voluntary basis) from all young men, with AI becoming the norm for procreation.” Dr. Smith hopes that society-wide sperm banking will “have marked benefits for the human gene pool over the long term.”
Sperm banking isn’t a new solution to addressing the risks of late fatherhood. In 2011, The Daily Beast reported on how older men are increasingly turning to sperm banking to avoid these health risks.
However, Dr. Smith is unique in the scope and scale of his proposed sperm-banking plan. Yet, many aren’t sold. Allan Pacey, a professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield tells BBC that “this is one of the most ridiculous suggestions I have heard in a long time.”