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Background. There are well-established epidemiologic associations between advanced paternal age and increased offspring risk for several psychiatric and developmental disorders. These associations are commonly attributed to age-related de novo mutations. However, the actual magnitude of risk conferred by age-related de novo mutations in the male germline is unknown. Quantifying this risk would clarify the clinical and public health significance of delayed paternity. Methods. Using results from large, parent-child trio whole-exome-sequencing studies, we estimated the relationship between paternal-age-related de novo single nucleotide variants (dnSNVs) and offspring risk for five disorders: autism spectrum disorders (ASD), congenital heart disease (CHD), neurodevelopmental disorders with epilepsy (EPI), intellectual disability (ID), and schizophrenia (SCZ). Using Danish national registry data, we then investigated the degree to which the epidemiologic association between each disorder and advanced paternal age was consistent with the estimated role of de novo mutations. Results. Incidence rate ratios comparing dnSNV-based risk to offspring of 45 versus 25-year-old fathers ranged from 1.05 (95% confidence interval 1.01-1.13) for SCZ to 1.29 (95% CI 1.13-1.68) for ID. Epidemiologic estimates of paternal age risk for CHD, ID and EPI were consistent with the dnSNV effect. However, epidemiologic effects for ASDs and SCZ significantly exceeded the risk that could be explained by dnSNVs alone (p<2e-4 for both comparisons). Conclusion. Increasing dnSNVs due to advanced paternal age confer a small amount of offspring risk for psychiatric and developmental disorders. For ASD and SCZ, epidemiologic associations with delayed paternity largely reflect factors that cannot be assumed to increase with age.

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