Objective: Parental age at birth has been shown to affect the rates of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, but the understanding of the mechanisms through which it mediates different outcomes is still lacking. A population-based cohort was used to assess differential effects of parental age on estimates of risk across pediatric-onset neuropsychiatric disorders: autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette's disorder/chronic tic disorder (TD/CT). Method: The study cohort included all singleton births in Denmark from 1980 through 2007 with full information on parental ages (N = 1,490,745) and was followed through December 31, 2013. Cases of ASD, ADHD, OCD, and TD/CT were identified in the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and the National Patient Register. Associations with parental age were modeled using a stratified Cox regression, allowing for changes in baseline diagnostic rates across time. Results: Younger parental age was significantly associated with increased estimates of risk for ADHD and TD/CT, whereas older parental age was associated with ASD and OCD. Except for OCD, no evidence for differential effects of parental ages on male versus female offspring was observed. Conclusion: This study provides novel evidence for the association between age at parenthood and TD/CT and OCD and for the first time shows in a population-based sample that parental age confers differential risk rates for pediatric-onset psychiatric disorders. These results are consistent with a model of shared and unshared risk architecture for pediatric-onset neuropsychiatric conditions, highlighting unique contributions of maternal and paternal ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-627
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • maternal age
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • parental age
  • paternal age
  • psychiatric disorders


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