The Effects of Paternal Age on Prevalence of Selected Birth Defects




Archer, Natalie P.

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Even though the effect of maternal age on a host of different birth defects has been studied quite extensively, the effect of paternal age on birth defect rates has not been as well studied. This study analyzed Texas birth defect registry cases from 1996 to 2002 to ascertain whether or not paternal age was associated with the prevalence of selected groups of structural birth defects. The following types of birth defects were analyzed: ventricular and atrial septal defects, neural tube defects (anencephaly, spina bifida, and encephalocele), trisomy disorders (trisomies 21, 13, and 18), craniosynostosis, cleft palate, and cleft lip (with or without cleft palate). First, paternal age-specific prevalence rates were calculated for each of the specific birth defects to be analyzed, using Texas live births from 1996 to 2002 as the denominator data. Poisson regression was then used to determine if there was an association between the paternal age groups and each of the specific birth defect rates, while adjusting for maternal age, maternal and paternal race/ethnicity, and parity. The study results showed a significant association between different paternal age groups and ventricular septal defects, atrial septal defects, cleft lip (with or without cleft palate), trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome), and trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome). Overall, this study showed little evidence of increased risk of these birth disorders for advanced paternal ages. However, the results did indicate that younger paternal ages of 24 or less are associated with an increase in birth defect rates for ventricular and atrial septal defects, cleft lip, and the trisomy disorders. Especially for the trisomy disorders, this increase in risk is large enough that it might be worthwhile to investigate this association further.



human abnormalities, middle-aged men, older men, young men, child birth statistics


Archer, N. P. (2005). The effects of paternal age on prevalence of selected birth defects (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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