little-known fact *laughs* that men mature slower than women, but did you know
that their age at the time of conception—should you choose to procreate—can
directly affect certain developmental behaviors of your unborn child?
Take a deep
breath. There is no need to panic (yet) as we are only talking about age here,
not maturity level. #kiddingnotkidding
published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child
and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that children born to fathers under
25 and over 51 years of age differed in how they acquired social skills.
As part of their
investigation, Magdalena Janecka, PhD, a fellow at the Seaver Autism Center for
Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai, and her co-authors used a UK-based sample
of over 15,000 twins (followed between the ages of 4 and 16) and looked for
differences in their developmental patterns of social skills. The comparison
included other behaviors, such as conduct and peer problems, hyperactivity and
emotionality. They also held a separate investigation to determine whether the
effects of paternal age on development were more likely attributable to genetic
or environmental factors.
on effects of the social domain (unrelated to maternal age), showed that
children born to very young and older fathers displayed increased prosocial
behaviors in early development, yet those with middle-aged
fathers lagged behind by the time they reached adolescence.
suggested that effects of developmental behavior were mostly influenced by genetic
factors (as opposed to environmental) and appeared to grow more
substantial as paternal age increased.
results reveal several important aspects of how paternal age at conception may
affect offspring," said Dr. Janecka. "We observed those effects in
the general population, which suggests children born to very young or older
fathers may find social situations more challenging, even if they do not meet
the diagnostic criteria for autism. Further, increased importance of genetic
factors observed in the offspring of older, but not very young fathers,
suggests that there could be different mechanisms behind the effects at these
two extremes of paternal age. Although the resulting behavioral profiles in
their offspring were similar, the causes could be vastly different."
Dr. Janecka went on to
say, "What was interesting is that the development of those skills was
altered in the offspring of both older as well as very young fathers. In
extreme cases, these effects may contribute to clinical disorders. Our study,
however, suggests that they could also be much more subtle."
to supplement these findings with future biological exchanges. They believe
such data will offer insight into the ways paternal age can affect a child's
risk of autism and schizophrenia.
In other words,
age is a lot like size when it comes down to it. And we all know how much that matters.