There has long been evidence that children of older mothers are at risk of illnesses such as Down syndrome -- now it seems having an elderly father can increase the odds of developing mental illness, The Australian reported Wednesday.
Australian researchers claim they have evidence backing suggestions that children of "older" fathers are more susceptible to schizophrenia and autism.
Epidemiologist Professor John McGrath and his colleagues reported Wednesday in the journal Translational Psychiatry that older fathers pass on a type of genetic mutation, which they develop as they age. And those mutations, copy number variants (CNVs), boost the risk of schizophrenia and autism.
"The evidence is mounting that the biological clock ticks with men as well as women," said McGrath from Queensland University's Brain Institute.
According to McGrath, it was too early to make public health recommendations, but people should be aware that older fathers can put their youngsters at increased risk of the debilitating mental disorders.