Monday, September 03, 2012

The Danger to Our Gene Pool as Fathers Become Older and Older : The New Yorker

The Danger to Our Gene Pool as Fathers Become Older and Older : The New Yorker

For sociological and environmental reasons, men are living longer and having children when they’re older. That, combined with the fact that we’re living in an era of diminished pressure from natural selection, means that Stefansson and his colleagues may have identified the single biggest factor in the ongoing development of the human genome: new mutations caused by old sperm. Mutations can be beneficial, but they are much more likely to be harmful—which means the changes will be overwhelmingly negative.

Aha, at last I may have a justification for my strong feelings against the 'Second-family' men. The ones who've divorced [or been divorced by] the first wife, and then went out and found themselves a new fresh [young] model and started a second family.  The ones that make you stop and wonder, 'Is this grandpa and daughter and grandchildren?' or is this old man the father of those babies?

And, of course, there is the angry, vocal, and well-organized minority that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that vaccines are responsible for the rise in autism-spectrum disorder diagnoses. Stefansson, for one, finds this preoccupation “very strange.” “Autism is fairly heritable,” he says—which means that inherited mutations must make a “significant contribution.” Combine that knowledge with Decode’s data on de-novo mutations, and, Stefansson says, “we have the disease pretty well covered. So this is still another set of observations that indicate that this idea of toxic substances in the form of vaccines has no legs to stand on.”

Have there been any studies regarding age of father at time of conception and the incidence of autism? It would be interesting to see. Wonder if anything could change the minds of those who believe vaccinations are at the root of all their childrens' problems. Probably not. It's easier to blame someone else than to think that your choice of gene partner might be responsible.

No comments: