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Father’s age could affect child’s social skills


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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