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Hum Reprod. 2004 Nov;19(11):2497-501. Epub 2004 Aug 19.

Late paternity and stillbirth risk.

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Department of Genetics and Microbiology 'A. Buzzati Traverso', University of Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy.



The role of paternal ageing on the incidence of some genetic diseases in offspring depends on the hypothesis that spontaneous mutations accumulate due to continuous cell divisions during spermatogenesis. We examined the effect of paternal age on the complex multifactorial character, stillbirth.


In 3,619,647 Italian singletons born in 1990-1996 we evaluated stillbirth risk as a function of paternal ageing by means of multiple logistic regression models, which included maternal age and family education, as categorical covariates and interactions. The categorical risk was estimated for mothers and fathers beyond threshold ages of 35 and 40 years, respectively.


Stillbirth risk increases with paternal ageing in mothers > or =30 years old, and maternal age and family education modify the impact. In families with low education, the risk accounts for odds ratio (OR) 1.015 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-1.02] in mothers aged 30-34 years, and for OR 1.032 (95% CI 1.02-1.04) in mothers aged > or =35 years; in families with higher education the risk accounts for OR 1.008 (95% CI 1.00-1.02) and OR 1.025 (95% CI 1.01-1.04), respectively, in mothers aged 30-34 and > or =35 years. In these latter families, for mothers aged <35 and fathers > or =40 years the risk accounts for OR 1.12 (95% CI 1.00-1.25).


The effect of paternal ageing on stillbirth risk is revealed in mothers aged > or =30 years and is modified by family education. In mothers aged 30-34 years from families with high education, the increase imputable to paternal ageing might be indicative of a genetic component.

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