Study finds a father’s age can affect a child’s social skills


Your eye color, your slim physique, maybe even your distaste for vegetables—all are features or qualities you may have gotten from dear old dad, no matter his age.

One new study found that a father’s age does matter—at least when it comes to a child’s social skills.

Children of very young and older dads may lag behind their peers in the social domain according to the study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) this month. In extreme cases, a father’s age may foster the onset of conditions like autism and schizophrenia.

In less severe cases:

  • Children of older and younger dads may find social situations more challenging.
  • These children may be more likely to struggle in school.
  • These children exhibit different ways of picking up social skills.

A research team followed more than 15,000 twins between the ages of 4 and 16 in the United Kingdom to determine how the age of their dads at the time of conception affected the development of their social skills, and other behavioral factors including hyperactivity and their emotions.

fatherhood photo
Flickr | CarbonNYC [in SF!]

Narrowing down the men we’re talking about: We’re talking dads under the age of 25 and dads over the age of 51. Following dads in both extremes, the research team found paternal age can alter certain skills in children compared to children of middle-aged fathers.

Other Key Findings

  1. These certain behaviors and conditions were not influenced by the age of a child’s mother according to this study.
  2. Genetic factors can dominate social skills even more than environmental factors especially as the age of the father increases.
  3. On average, the children’s social skills were most likely to suffer at adolescence versus during childhood.

Researchers are still working to nail down why a dad’s age would matter, and the association between the two age groups.

In the meantime, as we know, women are physically primed for pregnancy in their 20s. That’s when there’s the lowest risk of complications. But there are advantages for women who wait until their 30s to conceive, as they’re more emotionally prepared for children.

There are more advantages for older moms, too: Another study finds that having children later in life is great for a mom’s brain.



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About the Author
Emily Hanford-Ostmann
I have a background in newspaper and broadcast news writing. When I'm not informing others about what's happening in town...I enjoy running, a great workout class, and finding my next favorite show on Netflix. I also find great joy in clearance shopping.

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