February 28, 2014 | Nicola

Every time I see my mum she warns me not to wait too long to have kids. I've managed to ward her off so far, but it looks like she now has another reason...

According to a major new study, children born to older fathers have an increased risk of certain psychiatric and academic problems. The risk isn't that high, but it showed up when researchers looked at a large population.

Despite the potential risks there are benefits for prospective parents in waiting until they are settled with a good income.

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The study involved 2.6 million people, making it one of the largest ever carried out on the issue.

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Image: Flickr/absolute xman

2 comments on 'Risk to child health linked to older dads'

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Sarah M

March 1, 2014 at 10:14

I think in today's society, it is mainly the people in professional careers who are putting off having children until they are past a certain level in their professional development. Take myself and my husband. We are in our late 20's and have both just finished our education, he is graduating from his PHd and has started his first professional year in industry. I am in my NQT year as a teacher. We are the lucky ones and have just bought a house. It was important for us to be at this stage in our lives so we felt we had done all we could to make a nice life for our children. I think there are many people out there who put it off to let their careers become established. We are discovering new theories about children being healthier when born to younger parents, which as like the article says, the figures may be skewed when looking at a whole population, when taking into account other factors (health, stress etc). But what I actually think, is that I wouldn't want to be at the school gates at 50.

Rob Mabey

March 1, 2014 at 08:24

Needs clarification on what the increased risk is and what constitutes an older father. A significantly older father may feel less close or excited about the child and hence spend less time engaging them or helping with homework. So the effects may be purely environmental and the father's age is not the causal effect, just a correlation to attitude towards the child. I would expect this sort of unclarified, sweeping statement from a mainstream newspaper like the Daily Mail, but not from the Science Museum. Are you secretly conducting a straw poll towards attitudes towards tacky tabloid headlines? I hope so.

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