Section for epidemiology and medical statistics

Parental age and risk of cleft lip

When both parents are old, the risk of cleft palate in the offspring is increased, but not if only one parent is older than 31 years (mothers) or 34 years (fathers).


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An increasing number of children in high-income countries have older parents, and several studies have suggested that the risk of cleft lip is associated with parental age. We have studied the association between parental age and the prevalence of cleft lip among approximately 2.5 million births in Norway from 1967-2010. About half of children born in this period had mothers aged 24-31 and fathers aged 26-34. The risk of having a child with a cleft among parents in this group was 1.15 per 1000. Our findings suggest that if only one parent is considerably older than this, the risk will not increase much. However, if both parents are old (40 for mothers and 50 for fathers), the risk will be 1.27 per 1000 or higher.

First author is Erik Berg. Read the article here.