A lot of people have been talking about the biological clocks of mothers. We all know that there is a link between the mother’s age and the health of the baby. Older mothers have higher chances of having babies with genetic disorders. However the latest studies show that the same thing is true for the fathers as well and their biological clock might be even more important than the mother’s.
Information on genetic mutations
The previous studies showed a link between the age of the father and the chances of the baby being affected by schizophrenia or autism. However until now this connection wasn’t understood by the specialists.
The latest study
In this study the specialists were searching for genomes of the baby that weren’t present in the mother or the father. This would mean that the defect appeared spontaneously and that it isn’t connected to the parents in any way. The results of the study show that the fathers passed on a lot more mutations (55 times of the cases) than the mothers (14 times).
In the same time the amount of the mutation increased with the age of the father. Generally speaking a 20 year old father can pass on 25 errors. In the same time a 36 year old father can pass on 50 errors. In rare cases a 70 year old father can pass on 8 times the number of errors as a 20 year old father.
The cause of these findings is that women are born with all of their eggs. On the other hand the body of men produces new sperm every time they have sex. The errors occur during the production of sperm. The good news is that the majority of these errors are harmless, but some of them can be linked to schizophrenia and autism.
In 2008 one in every 88 children was affected by autism. This represents a rise of 78% compared to the statistics of 2007. While this increase can be linked to the better screening methods of the CDC, a part of it can also be attributed to the increasing number of the older fathers.
There are more and more couples who wait longer periods of time to have children. The average age of fathers rose from 34 to 38. We have to add that in the majority of the cases autism isn’t caused by one single mutation.