Children Born to Older Fathers Could Face Higher Risk of Psychiatric Problems

Published Date : Feb 27, 2014

According to the findings of a new study that has been published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, children born from elder fathers may face an added risk of having psychiatric problems as compared to children that are born to fathers that are younger in age. The study was carried out by a team of researchers working at the Indiana University in Bloomington.

Previous studies have established that the factor of advancing paternal age (APA) during childbearing is linked with a higher risk of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, as well as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Other problems associated with APA are intellectual and academic problems.

In the recent past, several other studies have also shown that the father’s age is associated with the likelihood of the development of ‘de novo mutations’ in their offspring. These mutations pertain to a gene becoming present for the first time in a family because of a mutation in either the egg or sperm from the parents. Previous studies have linked de novo mutations to ASDs. 

However, there has been no attempt at carrying out a comprehensive study that looks at the overall links between APA and psychiatric problems.

The latest study published in JAMA Psychiatry compared Swedish siblings spanning a period of 28 years, between 1973 and 2001. The study tested the influence of the father’s age on conception. The study compared children of older fathers with their own elder siblings born earlier to the same father earlier- at a younger age. 

On comparing the siblings, researchers found that the risk of conditions such as psychosis, autism, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, suicide attempt and low academic attainment were higher among those children that were born among men who were older than 45 years.