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Parental Age and Children's Disability in the United States

Philip Cohen and Gneisha Dinwiddie investigate the effects of parents' age on the health of their babies

Some risks of having children at older ages are widely documented, but the pattern for all disabilities according to both mothers’ and fathers’ age is not well known. Recent attention has focused on children's disabilities that may result from de novo mutations occurring in men's sperm as they age, increasing the risk of such conditions as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. However, the public attention devoted to this issue has not adequately communicated the relative risks to children’s health – including information on the most prevalent conditions – of both biological mothers’ and fathers’ age. The objective of this research project is to assess the relationship between children’s mental and physical health conditions and parents’ age at birth, drawing from several major data sources covering a variety of conditions. The outcome will be a descriptive set of relative risks, presented in such a way as to better inform medical practitioners and the public as well as the research community.