Child health problems 'linked to father's age'
1 Mar BBC
A wide range of disorders and problems in school-age children have
been linked to delayed fatherhood in a major study involving millions of
Increased rates of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance
abuse problems were all reported.
The study, in JAMA Psychiatry, suggests mutated sperm were to
blame.However, experts say the benefits older dads bring may outweigh
any problems.The investigation by Indiana University, in the US, and
Sweden's Karolinska Institute has been described as the largest and one
of the best designed studies on the issue.
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.However, the overall risk is likely to
remain low. Even if a the risk of a rare disorder is doubled, it is
still very unlikely to affect a child.
The problem is small increases in risk scaled up over millions of
people having children later can lead to an increased incidence of such
disorders.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
Sperm are produced constantly throughout a man's lifetime.