Maternal Connections

It’s no surprise that we inherit almost all of our traits from our parents, but 23andMe researchers found that more of those traits come from our mothers than our fathers.MothersDay_Infographic

So as we near Mother’s Day we thought we’d highlight some of these findings and give you a few more reasons to thank your mom.

It turns out that whether you can carry a tune, or eat your vegetables or happen to cry easily, hinges a lot on whether your mom also has one of those traits.

To figure this out 23andMe researcher Emma Pierson examined the connection between parents and children in 15,000 anonymous mother-father-child “trios” among 23andMe’s customers who consented to research. Although this is a robust number of trios, for some traits that Emma looked at the sample size was in the hundreds instead of the thousands because not every customer answers survey questions. But in each case the ‘p-values’ – essentially the measure of both the strength of the correlation and the sample size – indicated that the correlation was statistically significant.

She found what you would expect – traits in parents are highly correlated with the traits in their children.  Only some of this is attributable to genetic factors. Emma also found that, remarkably, there were no cases in which a parent having the trait made it statistically significantly less likely that the child would have the trait.

But what’s more interesting here is what Emma discovered about the mother and child connection.  Emma found that the correlations between parent and child tended to be stronger for mothers than for fathers.

“If you’re trying to guess if a child has a trait, you’ll tend to get more information by looking at their mother,” Emma said. “When you break this down by the sex of the child, you find the discrepancy is due to daughters.”