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September 13, 2008

Sex, Research Studies & Reproduction

Do we live in the age of paranoia? Is paranoia fueled by studies and surveys? This was today's thought after reading an article about a Swiss study linking bi-polar disorder with older parents. It's the kind of thing that will probably influence partner choice for a small proportion of people, but is the Swiss study factoring everything? Are scientists absolutely certain that bi-polar has a genetic origin? Can it have something to do with maternal nutrition during pregnancy, or neonatal nutrition and so on? Human beings have to endure so many external variables from the moment they enter the world.

Another doctor (from New York) added her view toward the end of the NY Times article:

“The vast majority of children of any fathers will not get bipolar illness. At the level of the whole population, it may be important, but for the individual father it’s a small risk.”

Thus, if the vast majority won't get bipolar disorder, does that mean that the study is incomplete in some way?

Society may have come so far since the Industrial Revolution; science has gone from strength to strength, but it seems that humans still can't find the answer to many questions relating to physical and mental health. So what is to be done with such studies? Do people take them seriously, with a grain of salt, or include such information in their repositories, even if the information has a high chance of being irrelevant to them? How influential are these surveys where relationships and parenting are concerned?


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It was a blessing for me, but the dentist that gave me the news, after a dental X-ray was quite surprised. I wasn't sure if he was disappointed (no huge extractions - ever). When I've visited new dentists, they seldom believe me when I tell them, then the x-ray is taken, they're proven wrong ("but they may still be beneath your gums!"), and it's one thing that has made me 'dentally' happy I guess. I remember in my uni bio lectures, we were asked that question by our professor (when we were studying evolution): how many of us had no wisdom teeth, and a small percentage of us (about thirty students) put our hands up.

Wisdom teeth are slowly disappearing from the gene pool. You are not the first, but you are up there with the leaders.

I don't doubt genetic viability, but genetic health also relates to a woman's age as well, however I don't think society is ready to accept younger people reproducing. Still, not every child is going to have a disorder. The survey I mentioned didn't examine genes (in relation to bipolar), it examined medical records. Going by evolution, it's logical to consider the age factor, but we're also exposed to more gunk in our daily lives that can have a toll on genes, so that's my question. Is it strictly age or is it also the surrounding gunk we breathe in and eat?

Then again, I must have had a mutation present as I don't have any wisdom teeth (my father was 59 when I was born).

The age of the father past 34 is very important to the genetic health of children, on a population level and subtly on a personal level. There are loads of disorders due to paternal age.

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