Parents’ ages influence autism traits in general population
Studies have suggested that advanced age in men is associated with an increased risk of autism or schizophrenia in their children. There is also evidence that children born to young women (below age 20 or 25, depending on the study) are at heightened risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia and substance use3.
The two new studies link having young or old parents to a range of features in the general population. “When you do a population-type study of the community and don’t select people from a specific clinic, you’re able to generalize more to the population,” says Raquel Gur, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.
Gur and her colleagues found an increased risk of autism among children of men older than 32. They also found that children of parents younger than about 30 are more likely to show features of ADHD or schizophrenia than their peers.
The other study, co-led by Avraham Reichenberg’s team in New York City, shows that children born to men older than 51 or younger than 24 lag behind their peers in acquiring social skills. Both studies were published in the May issue of the Journal of American Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.