‘Genetic nurture’: Parents’ genes affect how they raise their children

parents and crying baby at home

A new paper [January 26] in Science suggests a fascinating new twist on this interaction between our genes and our environment. Our parents genes can impact us, even if we do not inherit their genetic traits at all, researchers in England and Iceland found. It works like this: A parent’s nature can influence the way they nurture, and thus influence their children’s nature. Researchers dubbed the phenomenon “genetic nurture.”

In the new study, they looked at the influence of hundreds of thousands of genetic variants taken together. They found the influence of genes that were not inherited were 30 percent as significant as those that were, suggesting the existence of “genetic nurture.”

In other words, their parents’ genes that they did not inherit still seemed to play a part in how far they went in school. If this sounds a bit confusing, that’s part of the point: It’s hard to distinguish between the roles our genes and our environment play in who we eventually become.


A major takeaway, they write, is that family genetic data should be a component of large genetic studies, what are known as Genome Wide Association Studies.

Who we are is the result of a complex tangle of factors, and this study makes it clear that nature versus nurture isn’t the binary we once thought it to be.

Read full, original post: Why You Can’t Separate Nature from Nurture, Even When Looking at DNA

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