Autistic Odds Increase Over Time

Autism risk in offspring related to parent age

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Many past studies have asserted a suspicion that with advancing age come health risks in offspring. A recent study confirms older gentlemen have a higher risk of reproducing autistic children than their more youthful peers. 

A study analyzing autism risk factors found that risk of children with autism increases with advancing paternal age. Moreover, after their forties, men are significantly more likely to have autistic children than those in their twenties.

"Paternal age is a risk factor for autism."

Set to be published in the December issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the study analyzed cases of autism within Sweden's National Patient Registrar.  Over a million people were viewed in a 10 year birth cohort, an observational study used in medicine to analyze risk factors among disease-free individuals of a particular age range.

Eight-hundred and eighty three autism cases were noted, 660 of those were in families with unaffected siblings.  

The study investigated:

  • the risk of autism within a control sample
  • the explanation of familial patterns associated with autism
  • results holistically consistent with previous medical research

Within the control, men over fifty were found 2.2 times more likely to have autistic children than those under twenty-nine. In analyzing autistic families, siblings with autism were typically younger-born when the father was older-than siblings without autism.

The researchers and doctors involved in this study state: "these findings represent the strongest evidence to date that advanced paternal age is a risk factor for autism in offspring."

The doctors note that possible biological mechanisms responsible for such findings include genetic dysfunctions and mutations as well as the transformation of genes expected with aging.  

Older couples interested in having children should consult their doctor about possible health risks.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 21, 2011
Last Updated:
November 26, 2011