A new study has found that men who delay having children are more likely to have “geekier” sons. The “Geek Index” devised by the King's College London was tested on kids of older fathers and it found that these kids were more intelligent and focused and less bothered about being included and fitting in. The mothers did not seem to have an impact and daughters too did not have an impact from being born to older fathers says the study.
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Delayed parenthood is the norm today with careers being on line at younger ages. Scientists believe this could lead to production of more geniuses in the society. Delayed parenthood for women as well has men has been often studied with more bad news than good.
Delaying parenthood has been linked to genetic defects in the baby, autism and several other congenital problems. This is mainly because the older the sperms (from the father) and the ova (from the mother) get, more they are likely to develop genetic errors.
In addition the risk of miscarriages and infertility also rises with age. This is probably the first that said anything good about delayed fatherhood say researchers.
For this study the researchers looked at 15,000 twins who were a part of another large study. Their Geek index was used to check on the “geekiness” of the kids at the age of 12. The points tested included ability to focus on a topic, non-verbal IQ and social aloofness or lack of concern about not fitting in.
Those that scored high on the Geek Index did better at school especially in science, mathematics, technology and engineering. These high scorers were linked to higher paternal age and the connection was found to be robust.
Researchers explain that the possible explanations for this connection could be the fact that these kids have geekier fathers.
Typically, so called "geeks" or ones who are more intelligent and socially aloof, tend to start their family late and may be passing on their traits to their male children.
These older fathers are also ones that are financially more stable and probably are providing a better education and guidance to their sons explained researchers.
On a cellular level, researchers say that there may be changes in the sperm at older ages that affect development.
Dr Magdalena Janecka, from King's College London, lead researcher on the team said that the father’s age may not be the only deciding factor while planning to have children. There may be several risks involved with delayed parenthood.
Also the researchers are unable to explain why the girls did not show similar outcomes. They speculate that their test or Geek Index could be flawed to test geekiness in girls and could be missing the important differences among girls of older fathers compared to those of younger fathers.
Researchers mention that there is a thin line between geeks and autism and a slightest change in the two could tip the balance towards autism. This study according to them was to ascertain the link between “advanced paternal age, autism and talent”.
The study was published this week in the journal Translational Psychiatry titled “Advantageous developmental outcomes of advancing paternal age”.