Refrigerator Mothers or Aging Fathers?

 

Back in the 1950′s, scientists were certain that autism and schizophrenia were caused by mothers who were emotionally frigid.  Scientists coined the phrase “refrigerator mothers” to describe how the lack of warmth  by mothers affected their children.  There were even movies made about this symptom:  a PBS Point of View, the trailer which is found above.

Scientist now accept that autism is the result of genetics.  A study released by Nature highlights the link between paternal age and autism.

As the New York Times reported in August, as men age, they are more likely to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia.

The study finds support for the argument that the surging rates of autism are partly caused by the increased average age of fathers.  It has long been known that having a baby when a woman is older increases the rate at which a child is born with Downs’ Syndrome.  Surprisingly, no correlation  has been found between the age a woman gives birth and higher rates of autism and schizophrenia.

Clearly, more research is needed.

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