European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 443–447 | Cite as

Paternal age and mortality in children

  • Jin Liang ZhuEmail author
  • Mogens Vestergaard
  • Kreesten M. Madsen
  • Jørn Olsen


Background Since paternal age correlates with some diseases that have a high case-fatality, a paternal age effect on offspring’s survival is expected but unsettled. We examined the association between paternal age and mortality in children in a large population-based cohort taking maternal age and socioeconomic factors into account. Methods From the Danish Fertility Database (1980–1996), we identified 102,879 couples and their firstborn singleton children. Information on childhood death (N = 831) was obtained by linking the cohort to the nationwide register on cause of death (1980–1998). Results We observed a U-shaped association between paternal age and the overall mortality rate in children up to 18 years of age. Adjustment for maternal age and other confounders reduced the mortality rate ratio (MRR) for children of younger fathers but not for children of older fathers. Compared with children of fathers aged between 25 and 29 years, the adjusted MRR was 1.77 (95% confidence interval 1.28–2.45) for children of fathers aged between 45 and 49 years and 1.59 (1.03–2.46) for children of fathers aged 50 years or more. The cause-specific MRRs were highest for congenital malformations [2.35 (1.42–3.88)] and injury or poisoning [3.43 (1.49–7.92)] for children of fathers aged 45 years or more. Conclusion Our data revealed a higher mortality in offspring of fathers aged 45 years or more that lasted into adulthood. This adds to the cumulating evidence on adverse effects of advanced paternal age in procreation.


Epidemiology Mortality Paternal age 



Confidence interval


The 8th Revision of International Classification of Diseases


The 10th Revision of International Classification of Diseases


Mortality rate ratio



We thank Jørn Hansen Schmidt and Søren Leth-Sørensen for help with establishment of the cohorts. This study was supported by a grant from the Danish Medical Research Council (Grant No. 22-02-0363). The activities of the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre are financed by grants from the Danish National Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin Liang Zhu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mogens Vestergaard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kreesten M. Madsen
    • 1
  • Jørn Olsen
    • 3
  1. 1.The Danish Epidemiology Science CentreUniversity of AarhusAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of General Practice, Institute of Public HealthUniversity of AarhusAarhus CDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUCLALos AngelesUSA

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