Becoming a father in your beautiful 20s or wiser 30s might not be for many a priority. But a new study comes to show there are some health drawbacks to becoming a father later in life. Researchers say that older dads pass on more genetic mutations to their children, boosting their offspring’s risk for autism.
Research by experts at deCODE Genetics in Iceland shows that the father’s age is linked to the children’s risk to develop certain disorders, among which autism and schizophrenia. Basically the older the dad is the more likely are kids to inherit genetic mutations that translate into health risks.
Experts already know that older moms will pass on genetic mutations that sometimes translate into Down syndrome in babies. deCODE Genetics looked at the genetic analysis of 78 Icelandic families with children diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia. Researchers have found that the father’s age at conception was the main factor allowing the inheritance of more genetic mutations.
“It’s very likely that the rise in the mean age of fathers has made some contribution to the apparent epidemic of autism in our society” said Kari Stefansson, lead author of the study and CEO of deCODE Genetics. The study shows that men in their 20s could pass on to their offspring about 25 random mutations. Men in their 40s present 65 genetic mutations that could be passed on their children if they become parents.
Whereas 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the research is considered to be a milestone. Researchers found that in 97 percent of the cases investigated in Iceland, father’s genetic mutations where found in the children’s genes.
“This is astonishing and extremely important both from the point of view of human evolution and also from the point of view of diseases to which new mutations contribute” explained Stefansson.
Previous studies have had similar results. One research showed that men over 40 are six times more likely to have an autistic child, than men under 30. Older dads’ genetic mutations have been linked to offspring at high risk of schizophrenia, epilepsy and bipolarity while another research linked late fatherhood with poor offspring performances at intelligence tests.