Older Dads Pass on More Mutations to Their Kids

August 31st, 2012 § 0 comments

Men have always enjoyed being able to put off the decision to have kids without having to worry about too much about biological age limits. They might be too old and too tired to play with their kids but they don’t have to worry about needing hormone therapy if they wait too long. If the results of this study can be independently reproduced then perhaps it will give some pause to men that want to put off the big decision.

It turns out that men transmit more mutations than women, and on average, for each increasing year of age, a father passed two additional mutations on to his offspring. By the time a man reached the age of 40, his offspring had on average 65 random mutations that traced back to the paternal genetic material—that’s 260% more mutations than a 20-year-old dad would, on average, give to his children. Earlier research has shown that older men are more likely to father children with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism.

The article goes on to point out that the growing number of older dads may be a contributing factor in the increased rates of autism diagnoses. Obviously we need to be careful about the distinction between causation and correlation. Just because two trends happen at the same time, correlation, that doesn’t mean that one caused the other. The book Freakenomics tried to say that legalizing abortion in the 70’s caused crime rates to go down in certain states. An interesting theory but very hard to prove scientifically. You know what else happened in the 70’s? Lead was removed from gasoline, and subsequently from the air1, and there is scientific evidence that exposure to lead can lead to more violence. I’m looking at you Antivaxxers.

  1. keep in mind that exhaust fumes, and therefore lead, tend to collect in urban areas []

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