Male children with older fathers are more likely to be geeky, according to a new study. PHOTO/COURTESY
By TECH CORRESPONDENT
If you think of yourself as a geeky boy, you may want to thank your old man, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry.
The study surveyed 7,781 twins and found that being geeky was 57% inherited from the parents, particularly in male children with older fathers. The children were assessed at the age of 12 on their nonverbal intelligence, restrictive and repetitive behaviors, and social aloofness.
Their scores were put together to form a “geek index,” and those who ranked the highest had higher IQs, stronger focus levels and less concern about fitting in with others.
“Geek” is typically an umbrella term for people who tend to be socially awkward and overly intellectual, the study said.
The geek index started visibly rising in those with fathers who were older than 35 at the child’s conception. Males with fathers who were older than 50 at conception were 32% more likely to score higher on exams in STEM subjects than the offspring of fathers who were under 25, according to the study.
The girls with older fathers who were surveyed did not score significantly high on the geek index. Magdalena Janecka, a co-author of the study and a fellow at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai, said this could have to do with the way the study defined geekiness: It may not have captured the geeky characteristics of females. Females also might have a biological quality that resists these traits, she said.
A girl surfing the web on a tablet. PHOTO/PEXELS
According to CNN, previous studies have showed that advanced paternal age can lead to a higher risk of psychiatric diseases, such as autism and schizophrenia, in offspring.
“I think it’s quite important that we can relieve the stigma for older fathers,” Janecka said. “It’s important to add something positive to that and to make older fathers not feel guilty about how their kids do in life.”
Janecka said the 57% inheritability of geekiness is a combination of the parents’ geeky traits that are passed down, as well as mutations that occur in the sperm of older fathers.
These mutations happen as the father gets older and his sperm continues to reproduce, creating more opportunities for error in DNA replication. Although the study detected a presence of the mutations, Janecka said the researchers believe that the geekiness is mostly a result of familial traits.
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