New Study Shows Link Between Paternal Age & Increase in Autism, Schizophrenia

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Dr. Eve Feinberg of Fertility Centers of Illinois discusses study findings and the future forecast of male infertility

Dr. Eve Feinberg

Fertility preservation is a very easy fix for men who want to have children but are entering the waning years of their fertility potential. Men near or approaching the age of 40 should consider freezing their sperm just as women freeze their eggs.

A new study provides a direct link between paternal age and an increased risk of autism and schizophrenia. The study also shows that fathers pass on as many as four times more genetic mutations when compared to mothers.

Under a genetic sequencing application, Decode Genetics in Iceland found that “approximately ninety-seven percent of the difference in the rate of de-novo mutations can be attributed to the age of the father.”

Mutations arise during the production of eggs or sperm. Random mutations are more prevalent in males due to the constant division of cells required during in sperm production. The amount of mutations present grows as paternal age increases.

Women, who are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, also have age related risks of chromosome abnormalities. These, however, arise from a different mechanism than males. Maternal age may not increase the prevalence of complex developmental and psychiatric problems such as autism and schizophrenia, the incidence of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome does increase.

These findings prove that women, who have long been chained to their ticking biological clocks, are no longer alone in their need to preserve fertility at a younger age.

“Men need to be conscious of their fertility in order to ensure a healthy baby,” explains reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Eve Feinberg, Director of Fertility Preservation at Fertility Centers of Illinois.

“Fertility preservation is a very easy fix for men who want to have children but are entering the waning years of their fertility potential. Men near or approaching the age of 40 should consider freezing their sperm just as women freeze their eggs.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has reported a 78 percent increase in autism spectrum disorder diagnoses since 2007, or one in 88 children being born with the disease. Experts now question whether a heightened paternal age may be a significant contributor.

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Fertility Centers of Illinois, S.C., is one of the nation's leading fertility treatment practices, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. FCI physicians, embryologists and support staff are stringently chosen based on educational background, medical skills and their ability to collaborate. With a team of 10 nationally and internationally recognized reproductive physicians who treat thousands of patients each year, the practice has earned a reputation for overcoming hard-to-solve fertility issues. FCI is dedicated to medical and clinical excellence and continues to invest in the latest technologies and research. FCI offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatment options including intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, gestational carrier, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, as well as extensive resources to address financial and emotional needs. Fostering a culture for continuous innovation has made FCI home to the annual Midwest Reproductive Symposium which attracts experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology from around the world. FCI has 10 offices conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area (Buffalo Grove, Chicago/River North, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Highland Park, Hoffman Estates, Lindenhurst, Naperville, Oakbrook Terrace, and Orland Park). FCI is a member of the Attain Fertility Network which provides discounted fertility treatment programs. For more information visit http://www.fcionline.com

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