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Category: older fathers

A study in the journal Bipolar Disorders two weeks ago found that the children of fathers 50 or older had three times the risk of having bipolar disorder compared to children of fathers 30-34 years old.

Bipolar disorder afflicts...

A study in the journal Bipolar Disorders two weeks ago found that the children of fathers 50 or older had three times the risk of having bipolar disorder compared to children of fathers 30-34 years old.

Bipolar disorder afflicts about 1 percent of the general population, so, in very rough terms, the risk of bipolar disorder in the children of these older fathers is about 3 percent.

That's about one in every school classroom with 30 kids. it sounds frightening.

But turn it around and put it this way: The children of those older fathers have a 97 percent chance of not having bipolar disorder. Suddenly the risk sounds quite different.

It's not easy to convey these risks properly to readers, and reporters often get it wrong.

In another study this week on older fathers, researchers found...

In a short essay at rhrealitycheck.org, Elizabeth Gregory, the director of Women's Gender & Sexuality...

In a short essay at rhrealitycheck.org, Elizabeth Gregory, the director of Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Houston, argues that new research linking older fathers to an increased risk of autism, schizophrenia, and other ailments in their children, is "not the end of the world." That's from the headline, and maybe she didn't write it. But it's vague. And if it means we shouldn't be too concerned about the risks of older fatherhood, it's premature.

Rhrealitycheck.org, which I'm not familiar with, says it is "an online community and publication serving individuals and organizations committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights," and a "resource for evidence-based information,...

I posted earlier on the late-August study adding new evidence to the link between older fathers and autism and other ailments, and Deborah Blum...

I posted earlier on the late-August study adding new evidence to the link between older fathers and autism and other ailments, and Deborah Blum posted on a story looking at the implications for the human gene pool. But there is, I think, one more thing to say about the coverage.

The study received wide attention, even though this link has been clear for years. Most of the coverage missed what was new about this study, which did indeed add significant evidence to what had already been known. But something very important was largely missed. And I count that as a general failure of the press.

Much of the coverage was simply silly, amounting to this: OK, men, now you have to worry about your biological clocks, too! ...

Last week, the journal Nature published a paper titled "Risk of de novo mutations and the importance of the father's age to disease risk." As Paul Raeburn...

Last week, the journal Nature published a paper titled "Risk of de novo mutations and the importance of the father's age to disease risk." As Paul Raeburn noted here at the Tracker, the resulting coverage focused almost entirely on whether aging fathers could be suddenly seen as a significant contribution to autism cases.

Perhaps that emphasis isn't surprising given the fact that autism is a high-profile condition and given that earlier stories had put more emphasis on the age of the mother.  But, as science writer Seth Mnookin points out in a Monday post at New Yorker.com, the...

The idea that older women have an increased risk of having a child with autism has received a lot of press. Many women trying to juggle families and careers weigh this carefully while making their plans. The medical profession did a good job getting the word out on this.

What is not generally known, however...

The idea that older women have an increased risk of having a child with autism has received a lot of press. Many women trying to juggle families and careers weigh this carefully while making their plans. The medical profession did a good job getting the word out on this.

What is not generally known, however, is that children of older fathers also face increased risks of certain illnesses, including, notably, autism and schizophrenia. That has been known to researchers for some time, but medicine has done a terrible job of getting the word out on fathers. A paper appearing today in Nature, however, has attracted a lot of attention and could begin to change that.

Over at The Wall Street JournalGautam Naik is a little bit fuzzy about what precisely is new in the Nature paper; he mostly discusses...