Background: Paternal aging is associated with premeiotic damage to spermatogonia, a mechanism by which new point mutations are introduced into the gene pool. We hypothesized that paternal age might contribute to preeclampsia.
Methods: We studied the incidence of preeclampsia in 81,213 deliveries surveyed in 1964-1976 in the Jerusalem Perinatal Study. We controlled for maternal age, parity and other risk factors using logistic regression.
Results: Preeclampsia was reported in 1303 deliveries (1.6%). Compared with fathers age 25-34 years, the odds ratios (ORs) for preeclampsia were 1.24 (95% confidence interval = 1.05-1.46) for age 35-44 and 1.80 (1.40-2.31) for age 45+. For fathers age <25, the OR was 1.25 (1.04-1.51). Although weaker than maternal age effects, paternal effects were consistent within subgroups of other variables.
Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that a modest proportion of preeclampsia might be explained by new mutations acquired from fathers and add to a growing body of evidence for paternal age effects in birth defects, neuropsychiatric disease and neoplasia.