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Home > Research Articles > Advanced Parental Age May Increased Risk of Schizophrenia in Offspring

Health Media Ltd

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Advanced Parental Age May Increased Risk of Schizophrenia in Offspring Health Media Ltd - September 04, 2002

Older parental age has been linked to several autosomal dominant congenital conditions and, more recently, to schizophrenia. It is reasoned that if disrupted foetal development plays a role in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, new mutations secondary to advanced paternal age may increase schizophrenia risk by adversely affecting brain development.

Scientists at the New York Institute of Psychiatry and the University of Columbia examined the relationship between paternal age and schizophrenia risk of offspring using data from a birth cohort involved in the Prenatal Determinants of Schizophrenia study.

Dr Alan Brown and colleagues looked at the number of cases of schizophrenia that had been recorded during the mean 30-year follow-up period of this study. Out of 12,094 live births, 71 went on to be diagnosed with schizophrenia or a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.

Parental age was then examined as both a continuous and a categorical variable. Schizophrenia/schizophrenia spectrum disorder risk increased with advancing paternal age, even when maternal age and other potential confounding variables were taken into account.

"De novo mutations in the male germ cell line may be responsible, at least in part, for the observed association," said the study authors. They said that if this de novo hypothesis could be confirmed by future studies it might lead to the identification of candidate genes for schizophrenia.

Reference: Brown et al, American Journal of Psychiatry 2002;159:1528-1533

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