Hitting the headlines this morning is a news story about how the age of the father affects the child’s chance of being autistic. It appears the age of the mother makes no difference. The headlines are based on a new study, Advancing Paternal Age and Autism, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study was done in Israel using data collected by the Draft Board. All men and most women have to serve time in the Israel armed forces or equivalent unless they have a serious medical condition that prevents it, such as autism. By comparing the parental ages of those who where freed from the draft due to autism and those who weren’t the researchers found that there was a six-fold increase chance of having an autistic child if the father was over 40. The data suggested that the chance doubled every tens older the father got.
With more and more people putting off having children until they are in their thirties or later, it is likely the incidences of autism will continue to rise.