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Study: Older Dads Face Increased Risk for Having Autistic Children

In His Hand
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

For years, all the focus has been on moms; studies showed that after a certain age, the risk for health issues in infants with older mothers went up. Now, a new study shows that dads could be contributing to the risk factors, too.

According to a report that was published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, researchers found that children whose fathers were past the age of 45 when they were conceived had a significantly increased risk of having health issues like autism, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

The study looked at people born in Sweden between 1973 and 2001. Researchers estimated the risk of psychiatric problems and adjusted the risk depending on the father's age, "including comparisons of siblings [and] cousins." The results showed that those whose fathers were older saw a 3.5-times higher risk of having autism than children born to fathers in their early 20s. The children were also 13 times more at risk for having ADHD and 24 times more at risk for bipolar disorder.

Whereas women have been the ones to largely worry about their age when trying to conceive, with this new research, men should take note, too. Women have been putting off having kids to focus on their careers, but could men have been doing the same?

And what might the link be to older age and psychiatric disorders? Experts believe "the link with paternal age could be explained by genetic errors creeping into sperm production as men get older, which build up over time," reported the Daily Mail.

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