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Children Of Older Fathers Prone To Certain Disorders, Study Says

Publication Date: 
August 23, 2012
Los Angeles Times - Science
Rosie Mestel

Professor Hank Greely is quoted by Rosie Mestel in this Los Angeles Times article on the "pluses and minuses" of having children early or later in life.

Scientists have pinpointed a likely source for many cases of autism and schizophrenia: Men who become fathers later in life pass on more brand-new genetic mutations to their offspring.

The finding buttresses observations from population studies that rates of these disorders are more prevalent in children born to older fathers, sometimes by a factor of 2 or more, experts said.


Parenting is always difficult, and there are pluses and minuses to making the leap early or late in life, said Hank Greely, a Stanford University law professor who considers ethical issues raised by biological sciences.

For example, older fathers may have more resources to ensure good healthcare for their children and see that they are properly educated — two things that tend to improve their welfare.

"There are a bunch of choices we make in our life that have effects on our kids, and we make trade-offs," he said.