Old Dads May Play a Major Role in Increasing AutismS

Men can continue to reproduce late in life with little or no risk to themselves. But being an old dad might have serious repercussions for the child—a study published in the journal Nature found a that older fathers are more likely to have a kid with autism or schizophrenia because of random mutations that develop in their genes as they age.

It's not a reason not to sire a kid later in life—a guy in his 40s has a 2 percent chance of having a kid with one of these disorders. But the study does point out that the recent autism boom has something to do with the rising average age of fathers. Sorry old man dads, you could account for as much as 30 percent of cases.

There was no such correlation for older mothers, though there are a whole slew of risks to carrying a child at a more advanced age. The study does, however, debunk the myth that most of the responsibility for passing on developmental problems lies in the genes of an old mom. While these mamas still have a higher risk for having a baby with Downs Syndrome, the psychological and developmental issues come from daddy. In short, having a kid in your 40s might not mean being the oldest dad at graduation, but it does open your offspring up to a host of potential developmental issues. [New York Times]

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