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Children of Older Dads at Higher Risk of Autism, Other Conditions

Date Published: 
February 27, 2014

A large study from Sweden found that the children born to fathers aged 45 and older were at greater risk of having autism and several psychiatric disorders than the children whose fathers were in their early 20s.

The study, led by Brian M. D'Onofrio Ph.D. of Indiana University, looked at the records of 2.6 million children born in Sweden from 1973 to 2001. It was published online in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry Feb. 26.1

Children whose fathers were 45 and older at their births were at higher risk of several conditions – autism, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, psychosis, bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, substance use problems, and academic problems – than the children whose fathers were ages 20 to 24 when they were born, according to the study.

The study concludes that sperm mutations in the older fathers may place their children at greater risk of those psychiatric and academic problems. "The findings suggest that APA [Advanced Paternal Age] represents a risk of numerous public health and societal problems," the report said.1