Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Flea: Old Fathers

Flea: Old Fathers

There are many studies with data on conditions that are associated with increasing paternal age. To not take seriously, the Reichenberg study of more than 318,000 offspring, born in the 1980s, showing that men over 40 were almost six times more likely to father an autistic child as those under 30, is a mistake. The risk goes up to nine times with fathers over 50.

There's a 5-year old I know from our neighborhood playground. I know only two things about her: Her father was 84 when she was born, and she is profoundly autistic.

I know that anectdotes are meaningless and data are everything, but I couldn't help think of this precious little girl when I read of this study in the Archives in General Psychiatry

Data are everything, but I can't help wondering what this study will do to the conversation about autism.

My guess is it will do nothing. Could delayed parenthood be partly responsible for the "autism epidemic"? Americans don't want to hear that their lifestyle choices may have deleterious effects on their children. My guess is that some folks will shun this data as vigorously they shun the data that demonstrate, convincingly, that vaccines do not cause autism

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