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Father’s age could affect child’s social skills

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — The age of father at the time of his children are born can influence the social development, behaviour including conduct and peer problems, hyperactivity and emotional quotient of the resulting offspring, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

Researchers at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City analyzed social behaviors of children from early childhood through adolescence, finding that children whose father was either very young or older at conception differed in how they gained social skills.

“Our study suggests that social skills are a key domain affected by paternal age,” said Magdalena Janecka, doctoral candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

The study analyzed more than 15,000 twins who were followed from age 4 to 16 to assess the children’s social skills in relation to their father’s age at birth.

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The reserchers focused on the developmental patterns of social skills and noted differences in areas of hyperactivity, emotionality, as well as conduct and peer problems. Then, separately, they compared whether paternal age had more of an influence than genetic and environmental factors.

However, by the time they reached adolescence, they lagged behind their peers who had middle-aged fathers.

“What was interesting is that the development of those skills was altered in the children of both older as well as very young fathers,” Janecka added.

“In extreme cases, these effects may contribute to clinical disorders. Our study, however, suggests that they could also be much more subtle,” the study said.

These findings may offer insights into how paternal age influences children’s risk of autism and schizophrenia, which was shown in earlier studies, the researchers said.

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“Our results suggests that children born to very young or older fathers may find social situations more challenging, even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for autism,” Janecka said.

Further, development of social skills was found to be influenced predominantly by genetic rather than environmental factors and that those genetic effects became even more important as the paternal age increased.

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Now, age 10-24 is the new adolescence period: Lancet study

IANS Indo Asian News Service

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Gradual changes in biological growth and social role transitions — coupled with delayed marriage and parenthood — have pushed back the period of adolescence between ages 10-24 rather than the previously known 10-19 years, according to a study,conducted by Lancet.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Friday, revealed that an early puberty has accelerated the onset of adolescence in nearly all populations, while understanding of continued growth has lifted its endpoint age well into the 20s.

The past century has seen drastic changes in the definition of adolescence, which encompasses elements of biological growth and major social role transitions.

“Rather than age 10-19 years, a definition of 10-24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings,” said study lead author Susan M Sawyer from the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

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As a result of lifestyle changes, genetics and environmental factors, early puberty for girls at age 8-10 is the new ‘normal’.

While menstruation is a natural process, an early puberty results in various health issues, like depression and behavioural issues as well as the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Similarly, young adults continuing their education for longer period, delayed marriage and parenthood, has pushed back popular perceptions of when adulthood begins.

“The transition period from childhood to adulthood now occupies a greater portion of the life course than ever before at a time when unprecedented social forces, including marketing and digital media, are affecting health and well-being across these years,” Sawyer noted.

An expanded and more inclusive definition of adolescence is essential for developmentally appropriate framing of laws, social policies and service systems, the researchers added.

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