Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children Of Older Fathers Perform Less Well In Intelligence Tests During Infancy

Date:
March 10, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Children of older fathers perform less well in a range of cognitive tests during infancy and early childhood, according to a study published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine.

Children of older fathers perform less well in a range of cognitive tests during infancy and early childhood, according to a study published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine. In contrast, the study finds that children with older mothers gain higher scores in the same tests – designed to measure the ability to think and reason, including concentration, learning, memory, speaking and reading skills.

The age at which men and women are having children is increasing in the developed world, but whilst the "biological clock" – the effect of increasing maternal age on reduced fertility – is widely-discussed, the consequences of increased paternal age are not as well known. Recent evidence demonstrates a link between older fathers and specific health problems in their children, including birth deformities and cancer, as well as neuropsychiatric conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.

This new study by John McGrath, of the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland in Australia, and colleagues, investigates the link between a father's age and their child's general cognitive ability, by reanalyzing an existing dataset of 33,437 children born between 1959 and 1965 in the United States. This data formed part of the US Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP), which tested each child in the dataset at 8 months, 4 years and 7 years of age with a number of widely-used intelligence scales – including assessments of sensory discrimination and hand-eye coordination, conceptual and physical coordination, and at 7 years reading, spelling and arithmetic ability.

Crucially in their reanalysis of this dataset, McGrath and colleagues adjusted their study to take into account socio-economic factors. They used two models: one that focused on physical factors including the parents' age, and a second that indexed social factors such as maternal and paternal education and family income. They found that the older the father, the more likely the child was to have lower scores on the various tests used by the CPP – with the exception of one measure of physical coordination. The researchers also grouped the children by their mother's age and found that in contrast, the older the mother the higher the scores of the child in the cognitive tests.

Previous researchers have suggested that the children of older mothers may perform better because they experience a more nurturing home environment; if this is the case, this study suggests that children of older fathers do not necessarily experience the same benefit. The researchers advance several hypotheses as possibilities to explain the association between advanced paternal age and children's cognitive ability, including genetic and social arguments.

Unlike a woman's eggs – which are formed when she herself is in the womb – a man's sperm accumulates over his lifetime, which previous studies have suggested can mean increased incidence of mutations in the sperm at an older age. However, as emphasized in an expert commentary on the findings by Mary Cannon (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) – who was uninvolved with the study – genetic and social factors can operate in conjunction.

"New explanatory models are needed that can encompass socio-cultural and interpersonal factors as well as biological variables," she argues. Given the trend towards older maternal and paternal ages in the developing world, policy-makers may want to consider promoting an awareness of the risks to children that this study associates with delayed fatherhood.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Saha S, Barnett AG, Foldi C, Burne TH, Eyles DW, et al. Advanced Paternal Age Is Associated with Impaired Neurocognitive Outcomes during Infancy and Childhood. PLoS Medicine, 2009; 6 (3): e40 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000040
  2. Cannon M. Contrasting Effects of Maternal and Paternal Age on Offspring Intelligence. PLoS Medicine, 2009; 6 (3): e42 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000042

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Children Of Older Fathers Perform Less Well In Intelligence Tests During Infancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092941.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, March 10). Children Of Older Fathers Perform Less Well In Intelligence Tests During Infancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092941.htm
Public Library of Science. "Children Of Older Fathers Perform Less Well In Intelligence Tests During Infancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092941.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) — The American Heart Association's first policy statement on electronic cigarettes backs them as a last resort to help smokers quit and calls for more regulation to keep them away from youth. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) — The American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest group pushing for middle schools and high schools to start later, for the sake of their kids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins