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New research published recently in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, shows that children born to middle-aged men (45 years?and older) may be more likely to develop mental illnesses related to attention deficits, bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, than children born to younger men (20 to 24 years old). This research, the most comprehensive to date regarding paternal age and offspring mental health, was based on a population-based cohort study of all individuals born in Sweden from 1973-2001. The researchers estimated the risk of psychiatric and academic issues associated with advancing paternal age and also studied siblings, cousins, and first-born cousins. What the researchers found was that psychiatric (autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, psychosis, bipolar disorder, suicide attempt, and substance use problem) and academic (failing grades and low educational attainment) morbidity were very much related to being born to an older father. According to the researchers, their new findings are consistent with the idea that possible genetic mutations occurring during spermatogenesis are causally related to offspring morbidity. What does this study mean to you? Well, in this day and age, folks are putting off having kids until later in life, be it due to work, relationships or other choices, but it may not always be smart to wait too late to have kids. Still, life happens, so keep in mind that plenty of older parents have perfectly healthy kids. For an excellent and realistic look at becoming a parent later in life, read: How scary is having a baby when you’re over 40? 

+ Paternal Age at Childbearing and Offspring Psychiatric and Academic Morbidity

+ Mental Illness Risk Higher for Children of Older Fathers, Study Finds