Old Dads Make For Sicker Kids?

In a study published today in the journal PLoS Medicine, investigators report a correlation between older fathers and neurocognitive problems in their children. The accompanying editorial further notes a growing literature describing a variety of adverse health effects of advanced paternal age including cleft lip and palate, congenital heart defects, autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and childhood cancer.

The study analyzed a cohort born during the period 1959 to 1965 with cognitive measures collected at 8m, 4y, and 8y. The use of a cohort of that era reduces the influence of confounding factors like assisted reproductive technology, divorce, and complex stepfamily structure.

In contrast to the adverse effect of advanced paternal age is the superior performance on cognitive tests conferred to children of older mothers. Both of these age-related effects were reduced but not eliminated after controlling for socioeconomic factors like race, income, and education, or for parental mental health.

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