Father's age could affect child's social skills

Researchers found that children born to very young and older fathers - below 25 and over 51 years of age, respectively - showed more prosocial behaviours in early development. 

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: May 02, 2017, 16:23 PM IST
Father's age could affect child's social skills

New Delhi: A new study has found that the age of father at the time of his children are born can influence the social development, behaviour including conduct and peer problems, hyperactivity and emotional quotient of the resulting offspring.

Analysing social behaviors of children from early childhood until adolescence, researchers at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City found that those born to very young and older fathers - below 25 and over 51 years of age, respectively - showed more prosocial behaviours in early development.

However, by the time they reached adolescence, they lagged behind their peers who had middle-aged fathers.

"Our study suggests that social skills are a key domain affected by paternal age," said Magdalena Janecka, doctoral candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

"What was interesting is that the development of those skills was altered in the children of both older as well as very young fathers," Janecka added.

"In extreme cases, these effects may contribute to clinical disorders. Our study, however, suggests that they could also be much more subtle," the study said.

These findings may offer insights into how paternal age influences children's risk of autism and schizophrenia, which was shown in earlier studies, the researchers said.

"Our results suggests that children born to very young or older fathers may find social situations more challenging, even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for autism," Janecka said.

Further, development of social skills was found to be influenced predominantly by genetic rather than environmental factors and that those genetic effects became even more important as the paternal age increased.

However, these effects were specific to the social domain and were not observed in relation to maternal age, the researchers stated.

The team analysed more than 15,000 twins, who were followed between the ages of 4 and 16 to assess the children's social skills in relation to their father's age at the time of conception.

The study has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

(With IANS inputs)