UQ Logo Around 5 years back, a report stated that kids of older dads may be more vulnerable to autism. Now, Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) scientists second that by a research which reveals a genetic link on why the offspring of an older father may be more prone to develop schizophrenia or autism.

The scientists exploited genome-wide microarray screening technology and drew comparisons between the children of 3 month old male mice and those of less energetic 14-16 month old fathers. It came to light that mice fathered by older dads seemed to have a growing number of new copy variants CNVs in their DNA. Some genetic alterations have just one letter of the encryption changed, however, CNVs apparently have the potent to discard or duplicate complete paragraphs of genetic code. The outcomes are touted to be the first to show that kids of older males may have a growing risk of developing new CNVs.

“While we’ve known for some time that the children of older fathers are more likely to develop schizophrenia or autism, this study provides the first evidence of the biological mechanism that may be responsible,” explained QBI Professor John McGrath, who conducted the research with Professor Emma Whitelaw (Queensland Institute of Medical Research), and QBI’s Claire Foldi and Traute Flatscher-Bader.

Children of fathers in the age-group 50 and above appeared to be two times likelier to develop neurodevelopmental disorders than dads in their early 20s. According to Professor McGrath, the male germ line apparently goes through multiple cell divisions through adulthood than the female germ line. Thus, this increasing array of genetic changes in the sperm of older fathers takes place presumably since there is more scope for faults as time moves ahead. He added that men are also supposed to keep a tab on their biological cycles. Considering that many individuals are postponing fatherhood, paternal age-related mutations seem to be on a rising spree. These revelations will further aid in gauging other issues related to genes affecting the brain.

The findings are published in the latest issue of Translational Psychiatry.