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Several studies have reported that the number of crossovers increases with maternal age in humans, but others have found the opposite. Resolving the true effect has implications for understanding the maternal age effect on aneuploidies. Here, we revisit this question in the largest sample to date using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-chip data, comprising over 6,000 meioses from nine cohorts. We develop and fit a hierarchical model to allow for differences between cohorts and between mothers. We estimate that over 10 years, the expected number of maternal crossovers increases by 2.1% (95% credible interval (0.98%, 3.3%)). Our results are not consistent with the larger positive and negative effects previously reported in smaller cohorts. We see heterogeneity between cohorts that is likely due to chance effects in smaller samples, or possibly to confounders, emphasizing that care should be taken when interpreting results from any specific cohort about the effect of maternal age on recombination.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Aneuploidy, Bayes Theorem, Cohort Studies, Crossing Over, Genetic, Humans, Linear Models, Maternal Age, Models, Genetic, Recombination, Genetic