As Al Pacino and Robert De Niro Become Fathers Again, Experts Warn of Health Risks in Babies of Older Men

A study published in Maturitas, an international journal of midlife health, suggested that the offspring of men over the age of 45 could have birth defects though chances are still low

<p>Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images</p>

Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Health experts warn that older fathers could potentially pose a health risk to their children, as several older actors in Hollywood including Al Pacino, 83, and Robert De Niro, 79, announce they are becoming fathers.

A study published in Maturitas, an international journal of midlife health, suggested that the offspring of men over the age of 45 could have “birth defects” and “childhood autism” though chances are still low.

"Older guys have been having babies since biblical days. It’s not a new phenomenon. What we didn’t understand was they might be producing kids with a higher risk of problems," Arthur Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at NYU's Grossman School of Medicine, told NBC News.

Another study published in the National Library of Medicine found that the older a father is, the more likely his offspring will acquire congenital diseases such as heart malformations and mental health disorders like autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, low IQ level as well as ADHD.

Related: Robert De Niro Teases Future Playdates for His Newborn and Al Pacino&#39;s Baby on the Way

The study suggested that like women, men lose fertility as they age. However, while older women deal with problems affecting ovulation, men have problems with producing “quality” sperm, which could lead to genetic abnormalities in the baby. These mutations could eventually lead the child to have cancers like a common form of childhood leukemia and breast cancer.

Dr. Gloria Bachmann, associate dean for women’s health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School told NBC News, "Men should be aware that they, too, go through the same reproductive aging cycle as women, despite the fact that they don't have menopause.”

Related: Robert De Niro Talks About Becoming a Father Again at 79, Sends Sweet Message to Newborn Daughter Gia

This could affect women who are carrying the babies as well. As the study in Maturitas noted that women carrying the child could experience an increased risk of pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, intrauterine growth restriction and increased risk of the baby being born prematurely.

"The absolute risk does remain relatively low,” Stanford University School of Medicine researcher Dr. Michael Eisenberg told NBC News. “For an individual, it may not be as meaningful. But certainly on a population level, if we're looking at societal changes where parents are getting older, then it may be this measurable increase in some of these disorders.”

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He noted to the outlet that men accumulate about two mutations in their sperm’s DNA every year, on average, which is why the risks of their child getting a genetic abnormality increases with age.

On Thursday, PEOPLE confirmed that Pacino was expecting his first child with girlfriend Noor Alfallah and his fourth child overall. Last week, De Niro revealed that he welcomed a seventh baby, a girl named Gia Virginia Chen De Niro, with girlfriend Tiffany Chen in a sitdown with ET Canada. 

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