Posts Tagged ‘older fathers’

Older fathers becoming a threat to their children

March 27, 2014

Back in 2009 there was a rash of articles about the dangers to children of advanced paternal age.

Children born to fathers 40 or older have nearly a six-fold increase in the risk of autism as compared with kids whose fathers were younger than 30. Children of fathers older than 50 have a nine-fold risk of autism. And advanced paternal age, as it’s called, has also been linked to “an increased risk of birth defects, cleft lip and palate, water on the brain, dwarfism, miscarriage and ‘decreased intellectual capacity.'” 

And to an increased risk of schizophrenia. This risk rises for fathers with each passing year. The child of a 40-year-old father has a 2 percent chance of having schizophrenia-double the risk of a child whose father is younger than 30. And the kicker: A 40-year-old man’s risk of having a child with schizophrenia is the same as a 40-year-old woman’s risk of having a child with Down syndrome. More recent studies have linked fathers’ age to prostate and other cancers in their children. In September 2008, researchers linked older fathers to an increased risk of bipolar disorder in their children. Add to that the new finding, that the kids of older fathers score lower on IQ and other cognitive tests. 

Now 5 years later there is yet again a splurge of articles about the dangers of older fathers. These headlines are just in 2014.

  1. The Guardian: Children of older men at greater risk of mental illness
  2. Daily Mail: Children born to older fathers ‘are more likely to be ugly’… but may also live longer
  3. Daily Mail: Number of older fathers rises 58% in 14 years: 26 children every day are born to dads who are aged over 50

Of course it must also then follow that younger siblings (born inevitably to older fathers than their elder siblings) have a greater risk of autism, schizophrenia, prostate cancer, lower IQ, cleft palate, water on the brain, of being uglier and suffering from dwarfism!

Perhaps the EU should introduce some legislation to limit the age at which children can be fathered.

After all these aged (but usually richer) fathers are threatening the fundamental genetic structure of humans and perhaps threatening future evolution!!


Older Dads have sicker children

February 27, 2014

There is – it seems – an optimal child bearing age for fathers as well as mothers. Older fathers may be richer and more able to support a child but there is an increased risk to the health of their children.

A study by Indiana University, in the US, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute is the largest and one of the best designed studies on the issue and suggests that mutated sperm with older fathers are the cause.

Seems very plausible.

Brian M. D’Onofrio, Martin E. Rickert, Emma Frans, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Catarina Almqvist, Arvid Sjölander, Henrik Larsson and Paul Lichtenstein Paternal Age at Childbearing and Offspring Psychiatric and Academic Morbidity, JAMA Psychiatry, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4525

BBC reports: 

A wide range of disorders and problems in school-age children have been linked to delayed fatherhood in a major study involving millions of people.

Increased rates of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance abuse problems were all reported. …….

…. The researchers looked at 2.6 million people and at the difference between siblings born to the same father as it accounts for differences in upbringing between families.

Comparing children of a 45-year-old dad to those of a 24-year-old father it indicated:

  • autism was more than three times as likely
  • a 13-fold increased risk of ADHD
  • double the risk of a psychotic disorder
  • 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder
  • 2.5 times more likely to have suicidal behaviour or problems with drugs
  • lower scores at school

There was no starting point after which the risk started to increase, rather any increase in age had an associated increase in risk.

….. One of the researchers, Dr Brian D’Onofrio, said he was shocked by the findings, which suggested a higher risk than previously estimated. He told the BBC: “The implications of the study is that delaying childbearing is also associated with increased risk for psychiatric and academic problems in the offspring. The study adds to a growing body of research, that suggests families, doctors, and society as a whole must consider both the pros and cons of delaying childbearing.”

The social trend for both parents to have children later in life thus seems to have repercussions for the children. Though the risk may be small it could be said that this a social trend which weakens the health and reduces the well-being of succeeding generations. The demographic effect is that the incidence of psychoses will increase. While having children later may allow a maximisation of the economic contributions of the parents to society, it could also lead to increased medical costs for the affected children in the following generations. Genetic screening and abortion could of course mitigate some of the long term consequences for the evolution of humans.

It could be that we are moving towards greater promiscuity during the “best” child-bearing years but without the production of children due to the availability of contraception. Child bearing itself is then postponed to a more economically suitable time of life for the parents, but a less than optimal time for the health of the children so conceived. Apart from genetic screening of foetuses and abortion of some there does not seem to be a “natural” self-correcting mechanism for this social trend.

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