london: Children of older fathers are likely to be more intelligent, focused on their interests and less concerned about fitting in the society, all characteristics typically seen in ‘geeks’, a research suggests.
While previous research has shown that children of older fathers are at higher risk of some adverse outcomes, including autism and schizophrenia, the new study found that these children may also have certain advantages over their peers in educational and career settings.
Researchers from King’s College London in the UK and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the US collected behavioural and cognitive data from 15,000 twin pairs. When the twins were 12 years old, they completed online tests that measured ‘geek-like’ traits, including non-verbal IQ, strong focus on the subject of interest and levels of social aloofness.
Using this information, the researchers computed a ‘geek index’ for every child in the study. According to the study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, higher geek index scores were reported in the sons of older fathers.
In addition, they found that ‘geekier’ children do better in school exams, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, several years after their geek index was measured.
These results also have implications for understanding links between higher paternal age, autism and characteristics typically seen in ‘geeks’.
Although the researchers could not measure it directly, they hypothesise that some of the genes for geekiness and for autism are overlapping, and that those genes are more likely to be present in older fathers.
“When the child is born only with some of those genes, they may be more likely to succeed in school. However, with a higher ‘dose’ of these genes, and when there are other contributing risk factors, they may end up with a higher predisposition for autism,” said Magdalena Janecka from King’s College London.
“This is supported by recent research showing that genes for autism are also linked with higher IQ,” said Janecka.