The international team of scientists involved in the study used a large historical data set containing information on many characteristics of mothers and fathers that might contribute to spontaneous abortion. The researchers analyzed data from the ante-natal or post-partum interviews of 13,865 women. This data was recorded in the Jerusalem Perinatal Study, a population-based cohort derived from 92,408 births in Jerusalem in 1964-1976.
Accordingly, the study, which focused exclusively on spontaneous abortion as the outcome, has as one of its strengths its large sample size and its extensive data, which permit consideration of important potential confounders not included together in other analyses. These include variables such as maternal diabetes, parity, history of prior spontaneous and induced abortions, and history of maternal smoking, and socioeconomic status.
The cohort used for this study is unique, with immigrants from many origins, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and countries of North Africa, as well as Central and Eastern Europe. "This broad mix of backgrounds makes our study findings more generalizable," observed Susan Harlap, MD, professor of clinical epidemiology in the Mailman School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology, and the leader of this research team. "While several previous studies suggested that father's age might contribute to miscarriage, they failed to clarify whether there is a cut-off age or a progressive trend over the whole range of ages."
The study findings generate strong support for the association of increasing paternal age with increasing rates of spontaneous abortion, and are corroborated by other published studies. "Advanced paternal age may result in only a slight increase in the chance of spontaneous abortion for a specific couple. Nevertheless
Contact: Stephanie Berger
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health