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Abstract

Background

Paternal age at childbirth has been increasing worldwide, and we assessed whether this increase affects growth, body composition and metabolism in their children.

Methods

We studied 277 children (aged 3–12 years) born to fathers aged 19·8–51·8 years. Clinical assessments were height and weight adjusted for parental measurements, DEXA-derived body composition, fasting lipids, glucose homoeostasis and hormonal profiles.

Results

Children born to fathers aged 31–35 (P = 0·009) and >35 years (P = 0·021) were 2 cm taller than those of fathers aged ≤30 years. Children of fathers aged >35 years at childbirth had a lower body mass index (BMI) (−0·32 SDS) than offspring of fathers aged 31–35 (−0·01 SDS; P = 0·043) and ≤30 (0·22 SDS; P = 0·019). There were marked effects of paternal age at childbirth on childhood blood lipids. LDL-C concentrations in children born to fathers aged >35 years were 11% and 21% higher than in children of fathers aged 31–35 and ≤30 years, respectively (P < 0·01). Total cholesterol to HDL-C ratio was also higher among the children of fathers aged 31–35 (12%; P = 0·014) and >35 (16%; P = 0·004) years at childbirth compared with the ≤30 group. In addition, HOMA-IR in girls (but not boys) born of fathers aged 31–35 (0·99) and >35 years (1·11) indicated better insulin sensitivity compared with offspring in the ≤30 group (1·63; P < 0·05).

Conclusions

Increasing paternal age at childbirth is associated with a more favourable phenotype in their children (taller and slimmer, with better insulin sensitivity in girls) but with a less favourable lipid profile.