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!