Older Men May Have Grandchildren with Autism, Study Says

April 19, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. offspring 
[AWF-spring, OF-] (n.) – a child of a parent
Example Parents should give a lot of time and care when raising their offspring.

2. imply [im-PLAHY] (v.) – to say indirectly
Example: He implied that he wanted to go to the party by showing his parents the invitation.

3. paternal [puh-TUR-nl] (adj.) – connected to one’s father
Example: My paternal grandparents are my father’s parents.

4. mutation [myoo-TEY-shuh n] (n.) – a change from what is normal
Example: Genetic mutations can cause abnormalities in a person’s body.

5. diagnose [DAHY-uh g-nohs, -nohz, dahy-uh g-NOHS, -NOHZ] (v.) – to determine a person’s sickness through medical examinations
Example: The doctor diagnosed the child with a rare heart disease.

Read the text below.

A recent Swedish research from the journal JAMA Psychiatry revealed that men who had children at the age of 50 and above are 79% more likely to have grandchildren with autism than men who had an offspring in their 20s. This finding implies that genetics may play a bigger role in having autism.

Researchers analysed data from Sweden’s national statistics, examining the similarities and differences of around 6,000 autistic and 31,000 normal people. Specifically, researchers checked the individuals’ birthdate and the age of their respective maternal and paternal grandfathers.

Scientists believe that sperm cell mutations might be responsible for this condition. Sperm cells divide throughout a male’s life, which will likely create errors upon reproduction. These errors may then show up in a man’s grandchildren and not his children.

However, Andrew Adesman, a researcher in the study, said that grandfathers should not be overly worried. Even though the risk is high, not all men who fathered a child later in life would have grandchildren with autism. Since autism is a rare disorder, researchers found only a few cases from families with very old grandparents.

According to Avi Reichenberg, one of the study’s authors, the results of the study are significant, suggesting that the lifestyle of a person may affect his or her grandchild’s health.

Also, the outcome of this study can significantly help doctors understand autism and diagnose this condition at an early stage.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that a grandfather’s age affects his grandchild? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are the other effects of fathering a child at an older age? Please explain your answer/s.

Discussion B

·         Does age gap affect the closeness of a father and a child’s relationship? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are the characteristics of a good parent and grandparent?


April 19, 2013