Having an older father has often been a subject of criticism. Studies have found that older fathers tend to have a higher risk of passing on the genes that code for mental health disorders and autism onto their children. A new study from King's College has revealed that having an older father can have its perks, as research finds a link between paternal age and the child's intelligence.

Studying 'geekiness'

Researchers at King's College in London partnered with scientists and physicians at Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City to study the psychological impact of paternal age.

As opposed to previous studies which focused on mental disorders, this research was aimed at finding a link between paternal age and intelligence (referred to as 'geekiness' by scientists participating in the study). Geekiness was defined as having a high IQ, a low level of concern about fitting in with one's peers, and a focus on intellectual activities such as learning or problem solving.

Scientists used previously collected information in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) for their research. TEDS involved 15,000 twins across the United Kingdom and focused on the interaction between a child's genes and their environment. One segment of the TEDS study had been dedicated to learning about the children's interests, academic performance, and whether or not they were concerned about fitting in with and being accepted by their peers.

Researchers were able to use this preexisting data to create a 'geek index.' Using this information, each child was given a rank that corresponded to how 'geeky' they were.

Older dads have geekier sons

The geek index allowed for children to be put into categories based on their geekiness, making it easier for researchers to look into what caused the differences between these groups.

It was found that older fathers tended to have sons who ranked higher on the geek index. Additionally, these children tended to preform better in science, math, and technology later in life. Researchers believe geekiness is related to greater success in adulthood.

This research was headed by Dr. Magdalena Janecka, a post-doctoral fellow at Mount Sinai Hospital interested in how genetics relate to psychology.

When designing this study, Janecka was careful to account for socioeconomic status, parental occupation, and other factors that would effect the child's early upbringing. Regardless of these other influences, Janecka and her team found that the correlation between increased paternal age and higher levels of geekiness remained.