March 9, 2009

IQ Tests Reflect Lower Scores For Children Of Older Fathers

Intelligence tests administered to infants and young children of older fathers produced lower performing results, a study by Australian researchers confirmed in a press release from PLoS Medicine.

Ironically, children of older mothers attained higher scores when given the same tests that are designed to determine cognitive ability, which include concentration, memory, learning, speaking and reading skills.

It is an increasingly popular trend in industrialized countries for men and women to have children later in life.  Although the consequences of having children later for women are extensively talked about, discussions on paternal age influence on children are not as common. 

Evidence from this study reveals direct connections from older fathers to specific health conditions including birth defects and cancer, as well as conditions of the brain such as autism and schizophrenia, were apparent in their children. 

Data from intelligence tests taken by 33,437 children, who were born between 1959 and 1965 in the US, was thoroughly examined by researchers conducting the study.

Various assessments for sensory discrimination, hand-eye coordination, reading, spelling and arithmetic ability were administered to children at 8 months, 4 years and 7 years of age. 

The findings showed that the older the father, the inclination for the child to score lower increased. 

However, this was not true for aging mothers, as results reflected higher scores. 

Researchers have made the educated presumption that, "children of older mothers may perform better because they experience a more nurturing home environment; if this is the case, this study suggests that children of older fathers do not necessarily experience the same benefit."

It has also been suggested that increased occurrence of mutation in sperm may be a legitimate factor in lower performing children of older men. 

"Unlike a woman's eggs which are formed when she herself is in the womb, a man's sperm accumulates over his lifetime, which previous studies have suggested can mean increased incidence of mutations in the sperm at an older age," the researchers attested. 

Expert Mary Cannon of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland argues, "New explanatory models are needed that can encompass socio-cultural and interpersonal factors as well as biological variables." Her suggestions are objective, as she was not involved with the study. 


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