ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
CAREGIVING
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
EYE CARE, VISION
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Football Can Shrink Players
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Add your Article

Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Men who put off becoming dads till later in life may pay a price: slightly lowered intelligence in their offspring.

That's the conclusion of an Australian study that found that kids born to older men underperformed on intelligence and cognitive tests from infancy to 7 years of age, compared with children of younger fathers.

But on the other hand, children born to older mothers scored higher on the same tests, the team said.

"The biological clock ticks for men, too," concluded Dr. Mary Cannon, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland, and the author of an accompanying editorial in the March issue of the online journal PLoS Medicine.

"There are risks associated with delaying fatherhood," she said. "These risks may be subtle, such as a decrement of three to six points on childhood IQ tests, but can also be significant, as in the increased risks of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and autism."

One reason may be that men's sperm change as they age, the Australian researchers suggested.

"We suspect that more mutations accumulate in sperm as the dads age," said Dr. John McGrath, from the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and the study's lead researcher. "These mutations may cause subtle changes in the way the brain develops. But other social factors are involved also."

For the study, McGrath's team collected data on more than 33,000 American children born between 1959 and 1965. The data, which came from the U.S. Collaborative Perinatal Project, included the children's cognitive test results at the ages of 8 months, 4 years and 7 years. The tests included assessments of sensory discrimination and hand-eye coordination, conceptual and physical coordination and, at age 7, reading, spelling and arithmetic skills.

In addition, the researchers took into account socioeconomic factors, including family income.

They found that the older the father, the more likely the child was to have lower scores on all tests except the test for physical coordination. For example, in one model, children born to 20-year-old men scored an average of 106.8 points on a standard IQ test, whereas kids born to 50-year-old men scored 100.7 points, on average.

The researchers also evaluated the children based on their mother's age. They found that the older the mother, the higher the kids' scores on the cognitive tests.

The findings suggest that "we need to worry about age of fatherhood as well as age of motherhood," McGrath said. "We need to work out what underlies this association."

Other research has suggested that the children of older mothers might do better because they experience a more nurturing, attentive home environment, but children of older fathers may not necessarily experience the same benefit.

McGrath's group also speculated that genetics and social factors might play a role in the findings. They point out that a woman's eggs are formed before birth, so DNA may stay relatively stable. But sperm is produced over a man's lifetime. Studies suggest that sperm may gain mutations as men grow older, the researchers said.

"Increased age at fatherhood has potentially significant effects on both the medical and psychological/intellectual outcomes for children," Cannon said. "There has been a great deal of emphasis for many decades on the risks associated with increasing age at motherhood, but men somehow have the impression that fatherhood can be delayed with no ill effects on offspring. It may be time to redress this balance in the minds of the public."

-Steven Reinberg

More information

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has more on infertility.



SOURCES: John McGrath, M.D., Ph.D., Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Mary Cannon, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin; March 2009, PLoS Medicine, online

Last Updated: March 09, 2009

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