Associations of parental age with offspring all-cause and cause-specific adult mortality

David Carslake*, Per Tynelius, Gerard J. van den Berg, George Davey Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

People are having children later in life. The consequences for offspring adult survival have been little studied due to the need for long follow-up linked to parental data and most research has considered offspring survival only in early life. We used Swedish registry data to examine all-cause and cause-specific adult mortality (293,470 deaths among 5,204,433 people, followed up to a maximum of 80 years old) in relation to parental age. For most common causes of death adult survival was improved in the offspring of older parents (HR for all-cause survival was 0.96 (95% CI: 0.96, 0.97) and 0.98 (0.97, 0.98) per five years of maternal and paternal age, respectively). The childhood environment provided by older parents may more than compensate for any physiological disadvantages. Within-family analyses suggested stronger benefits of advanced parental age. This emphasises the importance of secular trends; a parent’s later children were born into a wealthier, healthier world. Sibling-comparison analyses can best assess individual family planning choices, but our results suggested a vulnerability to selection bias when there is extensive censoring. We consider the numerous causal and non-causal mechanisms which can link parental age and offspring survival, and the difficulty of separating them with currently available data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17097
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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