Pushing the envelope

Yesterday I discussed the never-ending scientific quest for eternal youth. But short of that, some people will settle for ensuring their genes make it to the next generation. No matter how old they are—or what lengths they have to go to.

Indeed, modern medical technology is ready to provide just about anything when and if our thoroughly modern citizens want it.

I used to call the Ob-Gyn unit of the hospital the “Department of Conflicting Goals.” In one room was all the equipment necessary for terminating pregnancies (perfectly healthy or otherwise). And right next door was the $10,000 technology for helping women who could not conceive naturally get pregnant.

So our modern society not only provides abortion on demand, but pregnancy on demand (for those who can afford it).  

I find it rather ironic how many people are worried about the implications of creating “genetically modified” foods. Yet many of these same citizens seem completely unconcerned about creating human “test tube” babies.

I also find it disturbing how little regard is given by the very physicians who ought to know better to the ever-increasing age of new parents these days.

Decades ago, worldwide studies proved that pregnancies that occurred to women over 35 years old are, by definition, “high risk.” It was well established that these pregnancies carry all kinds of risks to both mother and child. It seems those risks have been conveniently forgotten. Within one generation, medical technology has given reproductive abilities to women old enough to be grandparents.

And now, a new study in the British journal Nature shows that the risks of conceiving later in life aren’t limited to mothers. Researchers found that children fathered by older men have an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia—two of the greatest problems we face today for bearing healthy children. 

Perhaps it’s time to let nature take its course. And remember that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

“Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father’s age to disease risk.” Nature 2012; 488(7,412):471-475