Paternal Age and Child Development

Advanced paternal age at con­cep­tion has pre­vi­ously been shown to affect the res­ult­ing child’s health in many ways. Now, advanced paternal age has also been asso­ci­ated with impaired neuro­cog­nit­ive abil­it­ies (“the abil­ity to think and reas­on, includ­ing con­cen­tra­tion, memory, learn­ing, under­stand­ing, speak­ing, and read­ing”).

Advanced paternal age showed sig­ni­fic­ant asso­ci­ations with poorer scores on all of the neuro­cog­nit­ive meas­ures apart from the Bay­ley Motor score. The find­ings were broadly con­sist­ent in dir­ec­tion and effect size at all three ages [8 months, 4 years, and 7 years].

Inter­est­ingly, advanced mater­nal age was asso­ci­ated with bet­ter scores on all the same meas­ures. Why is this?

It is sus­pec­ted that dam­age to sperm, which can accu­mu­late over a man’s life­time, may be respons­ible. A woman’s eggs are formed largely while she is her­self in the womb, but sperm-mak­ing cells divide through­out a man’s life­time, increas­ing the chance of muta­tions in sperm.

Damn me and my mutat­ing sperm!