The Effects Of Maternal Age On Offspring Health

1488 Words6 Pages
Due to a combination of factors such as better access to contraceptives, the age at which a fathers first child is conceived has followed an upward trend in recent years. Lots of research has been done into the effect of maternal age on offspring health, with the public’s general knowledge of the link between Trisomy 21 and maternal age testimony to this, however the risks that increased paternal age imply are less well documented and well known. Increasing paternal age has in fact been linked to several birth defects, of which the focus of this essay will be on genetic mutations leading to a combination of physical and neuro-cranial diseases. Paternal Age Effect (PAE) describes the phenomenon of offspring of older fathers having an increased chance of suffering from certain spontaneous genetically based disorders. Most of these diseases associated with the father’s age are autosomally dominant, produced by de novo point mutations in a father’s germline – mainly by base substitution. The effect arises due to spermatogenesis, in contrast to oogenesis, happening constantly throughout a males life, therefore allowing sperm cells to accumulate a greater number of cell divisions. So a 40 year old males sperm has undergone as many as 25 times as many chromosome replications as an egg, whereas the sperm of a 20 year old man only around 7 times as many (1). This means they have had more opportunity to experience a disrupted mitotic/meiotic division, leading to them being more
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