I completed Julian Barnes’s Booker Prize winning short novel A Sense Of An Ending tonight and greatly admired it until I realised, right at the end, that it was based on a false premise.
And it’s a premise most people plan their lives on, and they’re wrong to.
This is that a woman who has a child in her early forties is more likely to have a Down’s Syndrome or otherwise dysfunctional or intellectually limited baby than a woman in, say, her early twenties.
As I understand it, this is wrong.
Studies published about twenty years ago showed the overwhelming probability that such babies were caused not by older wives but older husbands. Husbands in, say, their late fifties or early sixties. Husbands of an age some fortyish women married when they were younger.
Apparently the sperm of men deteriorate as they get older, and the ova of women, which are there from the start, do not.
And many, many women blame themselves, and their husbands blame them, for bearing disabled children when the fault, the mistake, the ill luck, lies elsewhere.
And many, many women lost babies after amniocentesis tests they took at that age in fear of such a child when it was not necessary.
Or this is what I and my wife, who lost a child this way, have believed for twenty years.
Our son Tom, born when she was forty-two and I was forty-three, was perfectly healthy and preceded by no amniocentisis in fear of the danger it would be to him. The risk of death. I watched the caesarian birth, nonetheless, with some trepidation.
If anyone reading this has contrary information on the subject could they let me know.