Older Fathers Linked to Children’s Genetic Disorder

Faculty; Public Health

The children of older fathers may have a greater risk of a genetic disorder that is associated with pediatric brain tumors, according to a new study by the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

The study did not find evidence linking older dads to children who actually developed brain tumors.

The disorder is Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), which affects about 1 in 3,000 people worldwide. It can be inherited from a parent or arise sporadically.

Researchers studied more than 300 people through the NF1 Patient Registry Initiative, an online patient registry that assembles individuals with NF1 from all over the world.

The mean age of fathers of U.S. children with NF1 whose disorder was not passed down from a family member was 4.3 years older than the U.S. general population. No significant difference was found between the fathers’ ages and cases with a family history of the disease.

Maternal ages were also higher for both kinds of NF1 cases, but the researchers suspect that older paternal age is driving the risk.

“Although the mother’s biological clock is often discussed, the increasing number of childhood disorders that are being linked to older paternal ages suggests that discussions around the father’s ‘biological clock’ are also important,” said Dr. Kimberly J. Johnson, Assistant Professor at the Brown School.

The study was published on-line Dec. 10 in Familial Cancer.

Click here to read more.