The odds that a child will develop autism could be linked to their grandfather's age at the time they were born, a new Swedish study suggests.
The study found that men who fathered a child at the age of 50 or older were more likely to have a grandchild with autism, suggesting that the risk might be passed down through successive generations.
Men who had a daughter at age 50 or older were 79 percent more likely to have a grandchild with autism compared to men who fathered when they were in their early 20s, the research team reported in the March 20 issue of the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Men who fathered a son at age 50 or older had a 67 percent higher risk of having a grandchild with the disorder compared to men who fathered a child as young adults.
"We tend to think in terms of the here and now when we talk about the effect of the environment on our genome," said study co-author Dr. Avi Reichenberg, who worked on the study while at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, in England. "For the first time in psychiatry, we show that your father's and grandfather's lifestyle choices can affect you.