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Junior’s cognitive skills linked to daddy’s age

Junior's cognitive skills linked to daddy's ageMore and more people, both men and women, are putting off having children as late as possible. Most of us are aware of the risks associated with advanced maternal age: chromosomal aberrations, pregnancy complications, risky delivery. Less known is the effect of paternal age and has often been assumed not to matter at all. Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia report that “time is not on the side of older dads.” The older a dad is, the higher is the likelihood that his offspring will have reduced cognitive skills. Previous studies have actually revealed that advanced paternal age increases the risk for schizophrenia and autism in the children.

The study was based on the performance of 33,000 American children who underwent intelligence tests at age 8 months, 4 years, and 7 years. The researchers claim that the results are surprising but clear: the older a dad is, the worse his children performed in intelligence tests. They speculate that more mutations accumulate in the sperms of older men which are then passed on to their children.

This link between children’s intelligence and daddy’s age is the exact opposite of what has been observed when looking at mommy’s age. Children of older women who escape chromosomal problems tend to be smarter than kids of younger women, thus probably contributing to the myth that menopausal babies are geniuses.

My father was 38 and my mom was 19 when they had their first child (she was his second wife). I was the 5th child in a family of 6. My dad was 52 when I was born and he was 56 when my younger sister was born. If we were to fit in the pattern observed by the study, I and my siblings should be virtually morons.

I wonder what male celebrities who had children late in life would have to say about this. Michael Douglas was 59 when Carys Zeta was born in 2003. The late Anthony Quinn had his youngest child at age 81!

What do you think?

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