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. Moderate quality evidence also suggests an increased risk when paternal age was less than 20 to 25 years.

Moderate quality evidence finds small, significant effects of increased risk of schizophrenia spectrum or non-affective psychosis in adulthood when maternal age at birth was under 20 years or between 30-34 years. A small, significant effect of decreased risk of schizophrenia spectrum or non-affective psychosis in adulthood was found when maternal age at birth was between 20-29 years.

April 2022

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Last updated at: 5:54 pm, 21st April 2022
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Parental age

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