bipolar disorder, fatherhood, biological clock

Children of Older Fathers at Greater Risk for Bipolar Disorder

September 03, 2008 06:51 AM
by Emily Coakley
Study linking older fathers to children who develop bipolar disorder is just the latest to illustrate that men also have ticking biological clocks.

‘Advanced paternal age is a risk factor’

As a man gets older, his risk of having a child with bipolar disorder increases, according to a Swedish study. Children of fathers 55 and older have a 37 percent higher chance of having bipolar disorder than kids whose fathers are younger, according to Reuters.

The study authors say that the risk is small enough that older men shouldn’t avoid having children. “The study sheds light on the negative effect of older fathers but most older men will still have healthy children,” said Emma Frans, the study’s lead author, in an interview with Reuters.

After years of research into the risks women face when they wait to have children, studies in the past few years suggest that men have ticking biological clocks, too.

Earlier this year, Scientific American described what some studies of older fathers have found: a higher likelihood to have children with schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders.

In 2006, Darya Zarin of Earth Times wrote about a small study that “reveals that men too are limited by a reproductive biological clock.” The study of 100 men’s sperm samples found that older men had more sperm with fragmented DNA, raising the risk of genetic problems.

Opinion & Analysis: Implications for older fathers

Mark Penn and Kinney Zalesne examine the social and commercial implications of fathering children later in life in their book “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.”

“And while older Moms have lots of support groups, Old New Dads are a forgotten lot, left to fend for themselves with little guidance, books, or organizations serving their needs. AARP, take note—Old New Dads may join you at 50, but a growing number of them still have kids in elementary school,” they wrote.

These men won’t be as interested in golf, but they will want parenting books and energy drinks, the authors say.

Reference: Bipolar disorder


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines