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Older Dads Affect Baby's Brains

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Older Dads Affect Baby's Brains
Children with older dads do less well in brainpower tests during early childhood.

The same study by The University of Queensland also found that children with older Mums did well on the tests. The tests assessed abilities such as memory, learning and concentration at eight months, four years, and seven years.

The age at which men and women are having children is increasing in the developed world and experts believe mutations in a man's sperm over a period of time could be a factor.

Older fathers have also been linked to a range of health problems, including an increased risk of birth deformities and conditions such as schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder.

The researchers analysed data on 33,437 children born between 1959 and 1965 in the US and adjusted their study to take account of factors such as family income and parental education.

It was found that the older the father, the more likely the child was to have lower scores on the various tests but the older the mother the higher the scores of the child in the cognitive tests. In the past it has been suggested that children of older mothers may perform better because they experience a more nurturing home environment but this appears not to be the case in relation to fathers.

Dr Allan Pacey, an expert in fertility at the University of Sheffield, said: "We have known for some time that the children born from older fathers are at increased risk of a number of medical problems and this is almost certainly because as men get older the sperm production gets less efficient and their sperm have a higher number of genetic defects." He continued by saying that it's a reminder "...that nature intended us to have our children earlier in our lives than we currently are."

March 2009

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