Although there's been a lot of talk about the risks associated with older women having children, there's new research showing that children born to older fathers are more likely to have mental health and academic problems. The study, "Parental Age at Childbearing and Offspring Psychiatric and Academic Morbidity," was published in JAMA Psychiatry last month.
The research found that fathers age 45 and over had children were at a heightened risk for many developmental, mental health and acadmic issues compared to fathers between the ages of 20 and 24. A child born to a 45-year-old father was 2.5 times more likely to have autism, 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder, 13 times more likely to have ADHD and 2.5 times more likely to exhibit suicidal behavior or to develop substance abuse problems. Researchers also found that children with older fathers were more likely to fail a grade and to experience poor academic achievement.
This certainly isn't good news in a society where many parents are putting off having children until later in life. The study doesn't draw conclusions about why older fathers are more likely to have children with more mental health and academic problems.
Obviously, a father's age is only one of many factors that can lead to mental health and academic issues. But, it's certainly is something for parents to consider.