New research has suggested that DNA mutation in father’s sperm can predict the danger of autism in children. Scientists have linked the risk of autism to de novo mutation, which is a DNA change occurring in the sperm after fertilization in the embryo. Researchers have estimated that such mutations might be responsible for 10 to 30 percent of autism cases. The study says that the older a father is at the time of conception, the higher the chances de novo mutation in his sperm will contribute to the autism spectrum disorder. With every passing decade in life, the rate of de novo mutations doubles in the sperm. Experts have tried to match some specific disease-causing genetic mutation in the DNA of autistic children to mutation in their fathers’ sperm.
Researchers have observed the DNA of eight sets of fathers and children. They have tried to analyze the phenomenon called mosaicism, which is a genetic difference. Such differences even occur among cells from the same person. Every time, cell division happens, it can generate genetic mutation or genetic mistakes. Genetic mistakes can lead to cancer and some mutations are not harmful as they occur outside the gene called ‘DNA Deserts’. Later scientists have matched these variations found in children to those found in their fathers’ sperms. It has proved that de novo genetic mutations have been playing a significant role in causing autism in children. This study has been published in Nature Medicine. It has been led by the scientists of the University of California.
Experts have also looked at the percentage of sperms produced by the father contains these de novo mutations. Researchers have conducted a genetic test to help fathers of autistic children to know how likely they are to have another child affected by the same condition. The genetic tests also informed the fathers to be if they are at increased risk of having a child with autism. Around 165 genetic mutations have been connected to autism spectrum disorder. Conducting a deep analysis of sperms of the father can help parents to know if they are lower or higher risk of producing a child with this condition. In the study of eight sets of fathers, nearly 10 percent of their sperms carried such dangerous genetic mutations. If these men decide to have more children, they have the option to reduce the risk of having autistic kids.