A study suggests that children of older fathers run a greater risk of suffering from autism than do they if the father is under 30:
Mutations in the sperm of older men could be a major contributory factor that leads to a significantly higher risk of having children with autism, say researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA. They found that men over 40 have a much higher chance of fathering children with autism, compared to men under 30.
A man over 40 is 5.75 times more likely to have a child with autism than a man under years of age. This is after controlling for year of birth, socioeconomic status, and maternal age.
It’s not completely clear from the reports what odds this actually gives you, if you are over 40, of fathering a child who suffers from this disease; I think I read somewhere the figure overall is something around 1 in 86, with boys three or four times as likely to suffer the condition than are girls.
The Independent gives further and better particulars of the odds and how they change according to the father’s age:
The research was carried out among 132,271 Jewish children born in Israel in the 1980s by Dr Abraham Reichenberg, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and colleagues from the Institute of Psychiatry in London.
The results showed that among fathers aged 15 to 29 when their child was born, the risk of autism was six in every 10,000 children.
Among fathers aged 30 to 39, nine in 10,000 children suffered autism (50 per cent higher), going up to 32 in 10,000 (almost six times higher) for fathers aged 40 to 49.
The risk was even higher among fathers aged 50 and over, although the sample size was small.
What I want to know, however, and what I think a responsible red-top press should be telling us, is how these odds compare with the risks of giving your child an MMR jab; doubtless The Daily Mail will be keeping us informed and, if necessary, leading a campaign against irresponsible parents who expose their children to such a possibility.