Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 24th 2013 Contents B52
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, October 24, 2013
By the time they reach their 20s, sons born to
older fathers and those who were born to younger
men score about the same on intelligence tests, a
new Danish study finds.
Whatever negative biological effects a father s age
might have on his child may be offset by the benefits
of being raised by a better educated and financially
stable older father, researchers said.
"Our results are reassuring for older fathers," Liselotte
Petersen, the study s lead author, told Reuters Health
in an e-mail.
"Our finding is that any potentially deleterious effects
of older fathers on general cognitive ability, as young
adults may be counter-balanced," Petersen, an associate
professor at Aarhus University in Denmark, said.
Previous studies have suggested that the children
of older fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with
autism and schizophrenia. That led Petersen and her
colleagues to suspect that the children of older fathers
may also have lower intelligence scores.
For the study, they used data collected from 169,009
men born after 1955. The goal was to see if there were
any differences in intelligence related to how old their
fathers were at the time of their birth.
The researchers used the participants scores from
the intelligence test that s required for military service
in Denmark. Each participant took the test when he
was about 20 years old.
The participants average score was 42, which is
about the same as that of the general Danish popu-
Initially, it appeared that the children born to teenagers
or to fathers over age 35 scored lower on the intelligence
test, compared to the kids of fathers in their mid to
But the difference disappeared when Petersen and
her colleagues adjusted those scores to account for the
parents education levels, the children s birth order,
the mother s age and the year the test was adminis-
Children of teenage fathers, however, scored on aver-
age about one point lower, compared to the kids of
fathers aged 25 to 29.
Small changes in intelligence may impact people in
subtle ways, the researchers write in PLOS ONE. But
that difference would be magnified if it were applied
across the entire population.
The new study, however, can t prove that a father s
age will directly impact his child s intelligence.
Also, it s hard to compare the intelligence scores
used in this study to scores in previous research, accord-
ing to NYU Langone Medical Center s Dr Dolores
Malaspina, because the intelligence test used is unique
But, Malaspina, who has done similar work but
wasn t involved in the new study, wrote in an email
that this is a "compelling area of research."
You know how newborn babies can smell so good?
Well that reaction might be more nature than nur-
ture---at least for women.
Researchers had 30 women sniff various mystery
scents while their brains were scanned. Have the women
had recently given birth. The other half never had.
When the subjects sniffed clothes that, unknown to
them, had been worn by newborns, their brains all
showed specific activity. What got turned on were the
same dopamine pathways that are activated by doing
cocaine, by eating when hungry or by engaging in
other reward-inducing behaviour, like playing a slot
machine. And while all the women s brains lit up, the
brains of those who had recently given birth showed
significantly more activity than did the others . (Johan
N Lundström, Maternal status regulates cortical
responses to the body odour of newborns, in Frontiers
So the reaction to a newborn s scent may be a hard-
wired bonding mechanism between mothers and
infants---a biochemical reward for mom in the midst
of all her hard work. (Yahoo News)
Sons of older fathers
have normal brainpower
Moms' brains get
tickled by baby smell
Initially, it appeared
that the children born to
teenagers or to fathers
over age 35 scored
lower on the
compared to the kids of
fathers in their mid to
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