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Autism Among Disorders Common to Children Born to Older Fathers


Fathers are as important in their children's lives as mothers, though should not leave off parenthood too late. They provide the role model for what their sons should grow into, or what not to, as well as being the image in which a daughter chooses her husband, or the exact opposite. A good father will have both genders of children striving to either be like or surround themselves with individuals who resembles him. However, the older the father gets, the higher the likelihood that his offspring may have some form of disorder affecting learning and behavior.

Importance of a Father

Autism and Older Dads in 2012 Iceland
An older study has been built upon, in which autism and schizophrenia were found to appear more among children with older dads. In 2012, lead author Kári Stefánsson, chief executive of deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik noted, “the older we are as fathers, the more likely we will pass on our mutations." He added, “The more mutations we pass on, the more likely that one of them is going to be deleterious.”

78 trios of a mother, father and child had been studied then. What was found was that because women are born with a finite number of eggs, they are capable of passing on only about 14 new mutations to their offspring throughout their lifetime. In contrast, men are capable of forming new mutations each time they generate sperm. The researchers found that fathers passed on nearly four times as many new mutations as mothers (fathers: 55 average; mothers: 14 average). As such, researchers estimated that a 36-year-old will pass on twice as many mutations to his child as a man of 20, and a 70-year-old eight times as many.

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Autism and Older Dads in 2014 Sweden
An Indiana University study in collaboration with researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have found something interesting. We had precedent studies that showed older fathers being carriers of far more mutations, a theory which has been proven once again, published in a press release on February 26, 2014. The sample used was extremely large, looking at the the outcomes of more than two million children born between 1973 and 2001.

Problems discovered among children with older parents, particularly older fathers seemed to be:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicide attempts
  • Substance abuse
  • Academic problems included failing grades, low educational attainment and low IQ scores.

The article stated that "when compared to a child born to a 24-year-old father, a child born to a 45-year-old father is 3.5 times more likely to have autism, 13 times more likely to have ADHD, two times more likely to have a psychotic disorder, 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder and 2.5 times more likely to have suicidal behavior or a substance abuse problem."

This definitely makes things interesting. At the moment, the average age one begins a family has increased into the late 20's and 30's. A career must be established in order to ensure children are given the comforts of a middle-class family home. One can see the trend everywhere in the world. Those who have children too early suffer for it, both financially and emotionally. They have more responsibilities from a younger age, making it extremely difficult to finish school, climb the ladder in their career, and establish themselves in a comfortable position which allows for a moderate amount of luxury. On the contrary, the younger the family is formed, the higher the rate of poverty, lower the rate of education had, and lower the average family income because of lack of certain skill-sets those without families had the time to hone. This information, however, has one wondering- When is the ideal age for a man to begin a family and be ready financially to support it? After all, in this day and age, both men and women must work together to ensure the double income allows for a certain standard of living.

The take-home message? Men over 45 years of age should be informed that their risks of begetting children with different disorders,including comorbid disorders, are much higher than those of a younger age, meaning that they should plan ahead and ensure they have their lives in check by the age of 30-35, in order to give them a large enough window for the birth of any number of healthy children.