Friday, February 28, 2014

Late fathering a risk

This is very interesting. From the NZ Herald today:

A study of more than two million people in Sweden has found that those with older fathers faced a higher risk of psychiatric problems, autism and attention disorders.
Compared to people whose fathers were between the ages of 20 and 24 at the time of their birth, those with dads 45 or older were 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder, researchers said in JAMA Psychiatry, a journal of the American Medical Association.

Presumeably the reserachers controlled for other factors and it's a huge cohort which has been used in other studies.

"We were shocked by the findings," said Brian D'Onofrio, lead author and associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University, Bloomington.
"The specific associations with paternal age were much, much larger than in previous studies," said D'Onofrio, who collaborated with researchers at the Karolinska Institute.
Older paternal age was linked to a greater likelihood of schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance abuse problems in offspring, as well as failing grades and lower IQ scores.

While there is birth data for the age of mothers in NZ, I am not immediately aware of data relating to the age of fathers, and how rapidly it is trending up. I'll have a look around. But I doubt older fathers would, for instance, be a factor in the high rate of Maori suicide for instance, because Maori tend to have their children younger and I am assuming in general the fathers are also younger.

"...the Maori suicide rate is still more than 80 per cent higher than that of non-Maori at 28.7 per 100,000 in the 15-24 age group compared to 15.6 per 100,000."

You might also make a leap and speculate that youngest, especially after-thought children may be at greater risk. Most men don't suddenly start fathering at 45 or older.

From the Encyclopedia of NZ regarding 21st century parents:
 The average age of fathers of newborn babies was 33 years, approximately four years older than their own fathers when they were born. One baby in 100 had a father who was over 50 years old.


Lucia Maria said...

That is really interesting. I had an older father - he was 41 when I was born, and I am the oldest of 6 children. I have a brother that is autistic and another one that is schizophrenic. No suicide attempts in my family, though!

Anonymous said...

Maybe its a throw back to caveman days. Despite the fantastic healthy diet back then they were dead young because dinner fought back and life was probably very dangerous. On that basis our genetic makeup may still be catching up as the much longer life seems to be a fairly recent development. Perhaps in 20,000 yeras it won't be an issue.


gravedodger said...

Whew that was close My dad was 43, better look out for little bro though he came in at 48.

Interesting stats and from a significant size demographic too.