Medical Professionals Online

Schizophrenia Risk Rises with Father's Age

July 06, 2017

Children fathered by older men have an increased risk of schizophrenia in later life, possibly because of mutations in their father's DNA, according to a new study from Sweden published Friday.

A link between paternal age and schizophrenia has been reported before but scientists were not sure whether this was due to increasing mutations with advancing age or the result of inherited personality traits.

To find out, researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine in Cardiff and Gothenburg University in Sweden examined the medical records of 50,087 Swedish army conscripts recruited between 1969 and 1970.

Their findings, reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry, show that 362 of the former soldiers had been diagnosed with schizophrenia by 1996.

Their fathers' ages varied between 19 and 65. In a control group of men without schizophrenia, the fathers' ages ranged from 15 to 75.

The study found that the odds of developing schizophrenia increased by 30 percent for each 10-year increase in paternal age.

Adjusting for poor social integration had only a minimal effect on the findings, suggesting personality traits were not a major factor.

'This supports the hypothesis that accumulating germ cell mutations may lead to an increase in genetic liability to schizophrenia in the offspring,' Dr Stanley Zammit, from the University of Wales, said.