Curious Parents

According To Science, Older Fathers Have Geekier Sons

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Millennials get married at an older age than their parents. They also wait longer to have children (and some are happy without them, Mom). If you're putting parenthood on the back burner, you've likely heard the risks of starting at a later age. But we have some goods news: an April 2017 study reveals that older fathers have more intelligent sons.

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Age Is More Than A Number

After the age of 35, pregnancy can be a bit tricky for the mother. According to the Mayo Clinic, it may take a woman longer to become pregnant, the chance of having twins (surprise!) increases with age, and there are potential health risks, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. There's also a greater chance that her baby will be born prematurely, have an abnormal chromosome count (e.g. Down syndrome), or possibly be miscarried. And, it's not just women — previous research links children of older fathers to higher risks of disorders like autism and schizophrenia.

A recent study by New King's College London and published in the journal Translational Psychiatry reveals that it's not all bad for older parents. In fact, there's an "advantageous developmental outcome" for older fathers: their sons are likely to be "more intelligent, more focused on their interests and less concerned about fitting in." Yes, the sons of older dads are smarter and geekier.

In the study, the 12-year-old boys with older fathers (especially those in STEM) had higher IQs and performed better in school. According to lead researcher Dr. Magdalena Janecka, researchers only knew of "negative consequences of advanced paternal age." That is, until now. The new findings show that "these children may also go on to have better educational and career prospects."

The Geek Link

Why is this a thing? Study Finds suggests one possibility: "older fathers tend to be of better socioeconomic status, which enables their sons to grow up in a more enriched environment, augmented by better schooling." The researchers also note that there could an overlap between a child's "geeky" genes and those of autism.

Dr. Janecka elaborates in a press release: "When the child is born only with some of those genes, they may be more likely to succeed in school. However, with a higher 'dose' of these genes, and when there are other contributing risk factors, they may end up with a higher predisposition for autism. This is supported by recent research showing that genes for autism are also linked with higher IQ."

For this reason, researchers hope to explore the influence of environmental factors a bit further and hope to better understand the interrelatedness of older fathers, 'geekiness,' and autism in future studies.

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