Advanced paternal age is associated with an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
du Fossé Nadia A,van der Hoorn Marie-Louise P,van Lith Jan M M,le Cessie Saskia,Lashley Eileen E L O
Human reproduction update
BACKGROUND:Although spontaneous miscarriage is the most common complication of human pregnancy, potential contributing factors are not fully understood. Advanced maternal age has long been recognised as a major risk factor for miscarriage, being strongly related with fetal chromosomal abnormalities. The relation between paternal age and the risk of miscarriage is less evident, yet it is biologically plausible that an increasing number of genetic and epigenetic sperm abnormalities in older males may contribute to miscarriage. Previous meta-analyses showed associations between advanced paternal age and a broad spectrum of perinatal and paediatric outcomes. This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis on paternal age and spontaneous miscarriage. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE:The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to evaluate the effect of paternal age on the risk of spontaneous miscarriage. SEARCH METHODS:PubMed, Embase and Cochrane databases were searched to identify relevant studies up to August 2019. The following free text and MeSH terms were used: paternal age, father's age, male age, husband's age, spontaneous abortion, spontaneous miscarriage, abortion, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, fetal loss and fetal death. PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analysis were followed. Original research articles in English language addressing the relation between paternal age and spontaneous miscarriage were included. Exclusion criteria were studies that solely focused on pregnancy outcomes following artificial reproductive technology (ART) and studies that did not adjust their effect estimates for at least maternal age. Risk of bias was qualitatively described for three domains: bias due to confounding, information bias and selection bias. OUTCOMES:The search resulted in 975 original articles. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the qualitative synthesis. Nine of these studies were included in the quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis). Advanced paternal age was found to be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Pooled risk estimates for miscarriage for age categories 30-34, 35-39, 40-44 and ≥45 years of age were 1.04 (95% CI 0.90, 1.21), 1.15 (0.92, 1.43), 1.23 (1.06, 1.43) and 1.43 (1.13, 1.81) respectively (reference category 25-29 years). A second meta-analysis was performed for the subgroup of studies investigating first trimester miscarriage. This showed similar pooled risk estimates for the first three age categories and a slightly higher pooled risk estimate for age category ≥45 years (1.74; 95% CI 1.26, 2.41). WIDER IMPLICATIONS:Over the last decades, childbearing at later ages has become more common. It is known that frequencies of adverse reproductive outcomes, including spontaneous miscarriage, are higher in women with advanced age. We show that advanced paternal age is also associated with an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage. Although the paternal age effect is less pronounced than that observed with advanced maternal age and residual confounding by maternal age cannot be excluded, it may have implications for preconception counselling of couples comprising an older aged male.