Late fatherhood increases the risk of early-onset schizophrenia in their offspring, says a new study. The study in Biological Psychiatry says that this early-onset schizophrenia (schizophrenia occurring before 18 years of age) is a severe form of the disorder and is accompanied by more genetic abnormalities. Wei J Chen, MD, from the National Taiwan University in Taipei explained the observation was made after calculating the polygenic risk score based on genetic variations of both parents, which helps predict the risk of developing the disorder. It simply means that men who choose to have their children late can increase the risk of schizophrenia in their offspring. Interestingly, it was only advanced paternal (not maternal) age that was associated with this risk. It is not just early -onset schizophrenia that to-be parents need to beware of. There are many health risks associated with late parenthood. Here are some of them:

Premature, low birth weight babies: Men who have children until their late forties could have less healthy infants at birth. The Stanford University study observed that as the age of the father increased, the risk of the infant being born prematurely, having a low birth weight and requiring healthcare support after delivery, such as assisted ventilation, admission to neonatal intensive care, or antibiotics, also rose high. The study also said that children of fathers aged 45 years or more had a 14 per cent higher risk of being premature in addition to low birth weight, 14 per cent higher risk of being admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit and 18 per cent greater risk of having seizures, compared to infants with fathers aged 25 to 34 years. Not just this, even the risk of gestational diabetes was high if a woman carried the child of a man aged 55 years or older.

Autism: A Dutch study published in the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health said that late parenthood increased the chances of autism, a brain developmental disorder, in children. ‘Very old’ fathers had more effect on the offsprings.

Heart defects: Older motherhood comes with its own share of problems. A study noted that children who born to mothers who are older than 35 years are more likely to have heart problems in later life. Late pregnancy can also increase the risk of damaging the fertility of their daughters. According to a report in The Guardian, woman’s eggs tend to undergo damage as her age increases. This directly impacts their daughters and the quality of their own eggs.

With inputs from IANS