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It’s well known that a woman’s age at conception is a major determinant for her child’s risk for birth defects, especially as she approaches perimenopause and menopause. (See link below.) A new study in the journal Nature now has found that the father’s age at conception increases his child’s genetic mutations that are in turn linked to autism and schizophrenia.
The study (http://www NULL.nature NULL.com/news/fathers-bequeath-more-mutations-as-they-age-1 NULL.11247#/b2) was done in Iceland in 78 families who had a diagnosis of autism or schizophrenia. The sequences of their genes were compared to those of 1859 Icelanders from the general population.
The researchers found that older fathers were four times more likely to pass on new mutations as older mothers. For example, a 20-year-old dad passes on average 25 new genetic mutation errors to his child; a 50-year-old passes on about 65 (http://online NULL.wsj NULL.com/article/SB10000872396390444812704577605282821235136 NULL.html?KEYWORDS=older+fathers+autism).
While most of these mutations are harmless, some are the ones associated with autism and schizophrenia. Cause and affect weren’t absolutely proven for the rise in autism, but it seemed a significant contributor.
This topic will become an increasingly important part of counseling older couples and will require doctors to discuss these risks when women consider egg donation and fertility counseling and family building in general. It’s also important for couples that delay childbearing based on the mother’s age only.
Notes for this blog:
Machelle (Mache) Seibel, MD, a pioneer in many areas of women’s health and a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years, treats women in perimenopause and menopause with gynecologic disorders interfering with mental health and/or sexual function and creates award-winning educational content for women (http://www.HealthRock.com (http://www NULL.healthrock NULL.com/)). (http://www.DoctorSeibel.com (http://www NULL.doctorseibel NULL.com/)). For his info on treating menopause, go to: http://www.doctorseibel.com/menopause/
Dr. Seibel is also noted for working with companies and organizations to help them reach, teach and motivate their audience to stay well with award-winning health educational content through his ground-breaking interactive product, “HealthRock®.” He is an expert panel advisor on FlowerPowerMom.com’s “Informed Choices For Later Mothers”: http://www.achildafter40.com/our_expert_panel/#seibel-ex-top.
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