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Mental illness study looks at role of parental age

Researchers are always attempting to learn more about mental conditions. What risk factors increase the chances of schizophrenia? What is the best course of treatment for those with attention deficit disorders or bipolar disorder? What role does parental education levels or income play in mental conditions?

Of course, these are just some of the many questions that are looked out. Most recently, a new study came out suggesting that when it comes to certain mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorders and autism, the age of the father at conception may play a role. 

The New York Times recently ran a piece titled, “Mental Illness Risk Higher for Children of Older Fathers, Study Finds,” which looked at some of the findings of this study.

The first thing to note is that researchers have been debating for years whether the age of a father plays a role. And while this study points to evidence that it does, it should be noted this is simply talking about risks and one should not read this to mean all children born to older fathers will have a mental condition. Nor, should one think that just because a father is younger that their offspring is in the clear for mental conditions. Rather, this study just looks at one piece of a very complicated puzzle. 

In this study, researchers analyzed public and medical records for 2.6 million people, all of whom were born in Sweden. The records were from 1973 to 2001. 

From this, it was found that those born to fathers aged 45 or older had a higher chance of developing psychosis or receiving an autism or attention deficient disorder diagnosis than those born to fathers between the ages of 20 and 24. 

While certainly an interesting study, and overall important in terms of researchers trying to learn more about mental conditions, the truth remains that for those living with mental illness, they may face unique circumstances and require extra assistance. This is where a Social Security disability attorney can provide more information into what benefits may be available. 

Source: The New York Times, “Mental Illness Risk Higher for Children of Older Fathers, Study Finds,” Benedict Carey, Feb. 26, 2014 

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