Children of older fathers do not perform any worse in school than those with fathers in their 30s, as researchers had once feared, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet published in the online science journal PLoS ONE.
The average age of a man at the birth of his first child has risen sharply over the past few decades, a trend that is particularly pronounced in the Stockholm region. Several earlier studies have revealed a correlation between the father’s age and the risk of his child developing uncommon neuropsychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia and bipolarism. Recent studies have also suggested that high paternal age can have a negative impact on his child’s cognition.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have therefore conducted a study to see if there is a similar correlation between high paternal age and the child’s final year-nine grades. This present study is based on data from over 135,000 children in Stockholm, who left compulsory school between 2000 and 2007, and tested the hypothesis that any negative consequences of the father’s age on the child’s IQ would be offset by the social advantages that being raised by older parents brings.
“To the delight of fathers choosing to wait before having children, our results suggest that children of older fathers perform no worse in school,” says Anna Svensson, study leader at the Department of Public Health Sciences. “When we studied children’s final year-nine grades we could see no difference between children of fathers in their 50s and children of fathers in their 30s.”
Children of even younger fathers performed slightly worse in school, although these difference could largely be attributed to differences in the parents’ own educational background.