Offspring of older fathers appear to be more likely to have impaired neurocognitive outcomes in early childhood, according to results of a large US study. Using a sample of over 33 000 child participants from the US Collaborative Perinatal Project, researchers assessed the relationship between paternal or maternal age and outcome measures at 8 months, 4 years and 7 years. A range of neurocognitive tests was used and the data were analysed using two models, one taking into account the parents’ ages, and the other included the parents’ level of education and income. Advanced paternal age was significantly associated with lower scores on all but one of the neurocognitive measures. Near-linear decline with increasing paternal age was noted in most of the measures, and the association was independent of social factors. The authors comment that whether the children of older fathers “catch up” during later childhood is unknown, and that the mechanism of action may be related to genetic mutations in the male germ cell line or epigenetic mechanisms.
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