The nature of nurture: Effects of parental genotypes

Science. 2018 Jan 26;359(6374):424-428. doi: 10.1126/science.aan6877.


Sequence variants in the parental genomes that are not transmitted to a child (the proband) are often ignored in genetic studies. Here we show that nontransmitted alleles can affect a child through their impacts on the parents and other relatives, a phenomenon we call "genetic nurture." Using results from a meta-analysis of educational attainment, we find that the polygenic score computed for the nontransmitted alleles of 21,637 probands with at least one parent genotyped has an estimated effect on the educational attainment of the proband that is 29.9% (P = 1.6 × 10-14) of that of the transmitted polygenic score. Genetic nurturing effects of this polygenic score extend to other traits. Paternal and maternal polygenic scores have similar effects on educational attainment, but mothers contribute more than fathers to nutrition- and heath-related traits.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Educational Status
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Genomics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Multifactorial Inheritance*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Paternal Behavior*