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Father's age seen as crucial to baby's disease risk

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Sola

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A father's age, not a mother's, when a baby is conceived is the single largest factor in the risk of passing on new gene mutations to children and may help explain why childhood autism rates are rising, scientists said on Wednesday.

In a study which turns conventional thinking on its head, researchers sequenced the genomes of 78 Icelandic families with children diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia and found a father's age was crucial to the genetic risk of such disorders.

"Conventional wisdom has been to blame developmental disorders of children on the age of mothers," said Kari Stefansson, chief executive of the private firm deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, whose work was published in the journal Nature.

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