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CCRM Fertility Identifies Epigenetic Alterations in Sperm and Embryos of Older Men that Predispose Children to Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Groundbreaking Study Underscores Offspring Health Risks Due to Advanced Paternal Age
DENVER — August 11, 2020 — In a pioneering study, CCRM Fertility has identified epigenetic alterations in sperm from men age 50 and older that predispose children to neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. CCRM Fertility’s groundbreaking research was published in the July issue of Aging Cell.
Led by CCRM Fertility’s Scientific and Genetics Director Mandy Katz-Jaffe, Ph.D., the study examined sperm samples of men age 50 and older compared to their younger counterparts, as well as embryos that were created using donor eggs from young, fertile women.
By analyzing the sperm’s DNA through a process known as whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, CCRM Fertility found significant methylation (the “on and off switch” for the expression of genes) alterations in both sperm and embryos from fathers age 50 and older. The abundance of methylation alterations was most associated with genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
“While we have known that there is a correlation between advanced paternal age and risks of offspring neurodevelopmental disorders, this is the first time we’ve been able to identify an associated mechanism and inheritance,” explains Dr. Katz-Jaffe. “It’s an exciting breakthrough as we continue our research investigating the male sperm genome, advanced paternal age risks and future healthy offspring.”
William Schoolcraft, M.D., CCRM Fertility founder and medical director, adds, “Oftentimes, men fail to realize there is an ideal timeframe for their own roles in fertility. We hope our research raises further awareness around the male biological clock and encourages men in their 30s and 40s who plan to have children in the future to consider freezing their sperm to maximize the chance of having a healthy baby.”
About CCRM Fertility
Founded by Dr. William Schoolcraft in 1987, CCRM (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine) Fertility is the nation’s leader in fertility care and research. CCRM Fertility specializes in the most advanced fertility treatments, with deep expertise in in vitro fertilization (IVF), fertility assessment, fertility preservation, genetic testing, third party reproduction and egg donation. Unlike many other fertility clinics that outsource their specialists and testing needs, CCRM Fertility leverages its own data, as well as a dedicated team of in-house reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists and geneticists in order to deliver industry-leading outcomes. CCRM Fertility operates 11 fertility centers (including 26 offices) throughout North America, serving prospective parents in major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, New York, Northern Virginia, Minneapolis, Orange County, San Francisco Bay Area and Toronto. For more information, visit ccrmivf.com, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.