We hear a lot about complications that can occur in offspring because of advanced maternal age but not a lot about the effects of the age of the father. Recently, researchers in Iceland studied families in which some of these diseases were present. The control group consisted of 78 families who had children with autism, schizophrenia, or other illnesses, as well as 1900 healthy families, by comparing the gene sequences in both the parents and the children.
They found that the number of de novo mutations in a child depended strongly on the age of his or her father. In fact, the number of mutations dramatically increased from approximately 25 for those fathers who were 20 years old to an estimated 65 for fathers who were 40 years old. For mothers, regardless of their age, they transmitted an estimated 15 mutations.
Schizophrenia, dyslexia, autism, and lower intelligence have all been linked to the age of an affected child’s father.
Kong A et al. Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father’s age to disease risk. Nature 2012 Aug 23; 488:471. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11396) Published in Journal Watch General Medicine September 20, 2012