Parental age at birth

How is parental age at birth relevant to schizophrenia?

Advanced parental age may increase the risks for the development of schizophrenia in the offspring.  Commonly offered explanations have been the occurrence of germline mutations (that is, mutations that occur in the egg or sperm) in older adults, and/or psychological factors such as experiencing parental death at a vulnerable age. Pinpointing the age at which parenthood may be associated with a significantly higher risk of developing schizophrenia could be useful knowledge for potential parents, particularly if there is a pre-existing increased genetic risk of developing the disorder (ie; family history).

What is the evidence for parental age at birth and risk for schizophrenia?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests an increased risk of schizophrenia in adulthood when paternal age was over 35 years at birth, with risk greatest with paternal age over 54 years at birth. Moderate quality evidence also suggests an increased risk when paternal age was less than 20 to 25 years.

Moderate quality evidence finds a medium to large increased risk of schizophrenia when maternal age was under 17 years at birth, a small to medium increased risk of schizophrenia with maternal age less than 19 years, and a small increased risk with maternal age 20 to 30 years. There was a decreased risk of schizophrenia with maternal age over 30 years.

March 2019

Last updated at: 5:21 am, 16th March 2019
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