15:29 23 March 2013
According to a research conducted by experts from Sweden, the UK, and Australia, men who became fathers over the age of 50 have between 67 to 79per cent chances of having an autistic child.
The study, which was published in the journal of JAMA Psychiatry, involved looking at the family trees of 36,000 Swedes, including almost 6,000 with autism.
Emma Frans, the lead author of the study, explains the conclusion: "We know from previous studies that older paternal age is a risk factor for autism.
“This study goes beyond that and suggests that older grandpaternal age is also a risk factor for autism, suggesting that risk factors for autism can build up through generations."
Co-author DrAviReichenberg, from King's Institute of Psychiatry in London, said that this shouldn’t discourage men over 50’s in having a child: He explains: “For the first time in psychiatry, we show that your father's and grandfather's lifestyle choices can affect you.”
“This doesn't mean that you shouldn't have children if your father was old when he had you, because whilst the risk is increased, it is still small.
“However, the findings are important in understanding the complex way in which autism develops."
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