Older Dads Produce More Mutants

Pipestone Flyer

 

In another stunning example of unintended consequences, Icelandic researchers have discovered with older fathers, which have lately been the trend in western society, there are far greater chances for mutations than in dads that have their children younger. The reason for this surprising revelation is simple; since sperm multiply by dividing, and mutations are likely to occur during this process, the older the man, the more often his sperm have divided.

On the other hand, because women receive their eggs all at once, early on in life, they are not subject to the same constant replacement by division. This indicates, according to the research team, that when mutations occur, it is much likelier from the sperm being mutated than the egg.

The findings, which were reported in the influential science journal Nature, warned that with the average age of fatherhood having gone from 28 to 33, between the years 1980 to 2011, it caused the mutation count to go from 60 to 70. This is a remarkably swift societal change in relative terms. The increased risk could mean an heightened incidence of such conditions as autism.

Kári Stefánsson, who is in charge of “deCODE”, a genetics-based company in Reykjavik, was quick to point out, however, in the early days of Icelandic settlement, men didn’t have opportunities for fatherhood until they were in their mid-thirties and there wasn’t a spate of autistic children being sired. Still, there is no doubting that the older dads do carry with them more opportunity for mutations than their younger counterparts. Not all mutation are bad, though, the researchers were quick to point out. The chance of having razor blade adorned knuckles or the ability to shoot lasers from your eyes a la X-Men is not very likely. Still, without mutations there can be no evolutionary process that allows a species to adapt. Natural selection is there to weed out the non-helpful mutations. Unfortunately, some mutations cause tragic and heart-rending deformities in some cases.

“You could argue what is bad for the next generation is good for the future of our species,” Stefánsson suggested in the Nature article.

 

Just Posted

City of Wetaskiwin saves nearly $1M, restructures staff

‘Streamlining’ results in 10 positions eliminated at City of Wetaskiwin

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

Maskwacis RCMP seek three in home invasion case

Maskwacis RCMP investigate home invasion

Rezoning for farmyard defeated by county Dec. 6

County of Wetaskiwin council votes 3-4 against rezoning

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Most Read