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Paternal age and the risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery: a Finnish register-based study

Goisis, Alice, Remes, Hanna, Barclay, Kieron, Martikainen, Pekka and Myrskylä, Mikko (2018) Paternal age and the risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery: a Finnish register-based study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. ISSN 0143-005X

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Identification Number: 10.1136/jech-2017-210170


Background Based on existing studies, there is no conclusive evidence as to whether and why paternal age matters for birth outcomes. Methods We used Finnish Population Registers on 106,652 children born 1987-2000. We first document the unadjusted association between paternal age and the risk of low birth weight (<2500g; LBW) and preterm birth (<37 weeks gestation). Second, we investigate whether the unadjusted association is attenuated on adjustment for child’s, maternal and parental socio-economic characteristics. Third, by adopting a within-family design which involves comparing children born to the same father at different ages, we additionally adjust for unobserved parental characteristics shared between siblings. Results The unadjusted results show that being born to a father aged 40+, as opposed to a father 30-34, is associated with an increased risk of LBW of 0.96 percent (95% CI: 0.5%-1.3%) and to a younger father (<25) with a 1 percent (95% CI: 0.6%-1.3%) increased risk. The increased risk at younger paternal ages is halved on adjustment for the child’s characteristics and fully attenuated on adjustment for child/parental characteristics. The increased risk at paternal ages 40+ is partially attenuated on adjustment for maternal characteristics (β=0.62%; 95% CI: 0.13%-1.1%). Adjustment for unobserved parental characteristics shared by siblings further attenuates the 40+ coefficient (β=0.4%; 95% CI: -0.5%-1.2%). Results for preterm delivery are similar. Conclusions the results underscore the importance of considering paternal age as a potential risk factor for adverse birth outcomes and of expanding research on its role and the mechanisms linking it to birth outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors © CC BY-NC 4.0
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2018 10:46
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 23:19
Projects: 336475
Funders: European Research Council, Academy of Finland, Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation

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