Older dads pass on genetic mutations to their children


Many people know about the likelihood that older mothers will pass on genetic mutations to their offspring. However, new research implicates older fathers as more likely to pass on a new mutation to their children than older moms.

A clue to increased levels of autism

This new data may explain why a higher percentage of children today are born with an autism spectrum disorder, eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disease or more vulnerable to other potentially hereditary syndromes, illnesses and health conditions.

For this study, researchers studied the world’s largest whole genome sequencing project which linked diseases with uncommon defects in the genome. It was determined that older dads contribute more genetic defects than older moms.

Age of the father explains genetic diversity

“Strikingly, this study found that a father’s age at the time a child is conceived explains nearly all of the population diversity in new hereditary mutations found in the offspring. With the results here, it is now clear that demographic transitions that affect the age at which males reproduce can have a considerable impact on the rate of certain diseases linked to mutation,” said lead author Kari Stefansson, MD, Dr. Med. DEO of deCODE Genetics.

Other genetic themes emerged

The average age of fathers in the study was 29.7 years. For every extra year in the father’s age, there was a two-mutation per year rise in their children. Researchers also found genetic characteristics associated with autism and schizophrenia in the genomes of families with diagnoses of schizophrenia or autism. In the autism supgroup, researchers were also able to consistently identify two defective genes.
Source: Nature, MedicalNewsToday

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