Genetics vs. Environment: Which Shapes Our Kids the Most?

What matters most in shaping who we and our children will be–their genes or their environment? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support organization, interviews Dr. Danielle Posthuma, Head of Department of Complex Trait Genetics at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research at the Neuroscience Campus in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and co-investigator for a recently released study on what twin studies have shown about nature vs. nurture.

Hit the Highlights
  • Co-author of a recently released study titled: Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies which analyzed virtually all published twin studies. Reporting on more than 14 million twin pairs across 39 different countries.
  • The relative influence of genes and environment on human traits remains controversial. Why does disagreement remain after more than 50 years of research?
  • Why study twins? Why are twin studies important to understanding the influence of genetics vs. the environment.
  • How are twin studies designed? What is a meta- analysis and how does it add to our understanding?
  • What is the relative weight of genes vs environment in the following traits:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety disorder
    • Bipolar
    • Schizophrenia
    • Anti social behavior-conduct disorder/violence/behavioral issues
    • ADHD
    • Intelligence
    • Weight
    • Height
    • Learning disabilities
    • Mild mental retardation
    • Cancer risk
    • Cardiovascular issues
    • Personality, neuroticism, self esteem
    • Introversion/extroversion
    • Reproductive problems: structure and function
    • Longevity (age at death, mortality)
    • Alzheimers
    • Addiction
      • Alcohol
      • Cocaine
      • Opiates
      • Sedatives
      • Tobacco
  • What other traits are highly impacted by genes?
  • What other traits are highly impacted by environment?

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Image Credit: Donnie Ray Jones