Men planning to have kids may want to keep an eye on their biological clock: A growing body of research suggests that children born to older fathers are at higher risk for psychiatric and academic problems.
In a new study, researchers found that the increase in risk of problems may be even larger than previous estimates.
Researchers looked at health data on everyone born in Sweden between 1973 and 2001 (more than 2.6 million children), and compared the risk of various mental-health problems in children born to older fathers to that of children born to younger fathers. The researchers also included comparisons between siblings and cousins.
Compared with children born to fathers who were 20 to 24 years old, the children of fathers ages 45 and older were 3.5 times more likely to develop autism, 13 times more likely to develop attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 24 times more likely to develop bipolar disorder, the study found. [5 Controversial Mental Health Treatments]
The children of older fathers were also at higher risk for psychosis, suicide attempts, substance abuse, failing grades in school and low educational attainment, according to the study, published today (Feb. 26) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
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