Concerns have been raised about the potential negative biological effect of postponed parenthood upon the health of subsequent generations, including reproductive health. This study aimed to estimate if high parental age at birth was associated with accelerated pubertal timing in offspring.
In this large-scale cohort study, 15,819 children born by mothers in the Danish National Birth Cohort from 2000 to 2003 participated in a nationwide puberty cohort (participation rate 71%). Between 2012 and 2018, the children reported half-yearly information on pubertal status using web-based questionnaires from 11 years throughout puberty or 18 years of age. Information on parental age was drawn from nationwide registers. We estimated adjusted mean differences in months for age at attaining the pubertal milestones and pubertal timing overall between the pre-specified parental age groups: 20-29 (reference), 30-34 and advanced parental age groups (35-44 years for mothers and >35 years for fathers).
Overall, parental age at birth of the child was not associated with pubertal timing in daughters or sons. For sons of older fathers (>35 years), we observed indications towards slightly earlier pubertal timing in the range of 0.3-2.4 months for nearly all pubertal milestones, but all confidence intervals were wide, and many included the null.
We found no strong association between parental age and timing of puberty, and we find it unlikely that the decreasing age in pubertal timing is a result of parental decision to delay childbearing.