What Do You Inherit From Your Mother? 10 Traits

Medically Reviewed on 4/6/2022
What Do You Inherit From Your Mother
Although most inherited genes are passed on from both parents, some traits are directly linked to the mother, from certain genetic diseases to hair and eye color

Although most inherited genes are passed on from both parents, some traits are directly linked to the mother, from certain genetic diseases to hair and eye color.

Research on this topic is limited, but below are 10 physical and personality traits you may have inherited from your mother. 

10 traits you can inherit from your mother

1. Mitochondrial diseases

Mitochondrial diseases are chronic hereditary disorders that occur when mitochondria DNA has defects or mutations. Mitochondrial diseases can appear at any age, but usually appear at birth and can affect nearly every organ of the body, including the brain, nerves, muscle, kidney, heart, liver, eyes, ears, and pancreas.

Many disorders can cause secondary mitochondrial dysfunction and have an effect on other diseases. Examples include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

About 1 in every 5,000 people is affected by hereditary mitochondrial disorder. Because of the variety of symptoms and organ systems involved, mitochondrial illnesses are frequently misdiagnosed.

2. Eye conditions

  • Pathological myopia: Recent studies have shown that eyesight and eye structure are inherited from mothers. If your mother had myopia at a young age, chances are you may have weak eyesight and an increased risk of amblyopia.
  • Color blindness: Color blindness is a trait linked to the X chromosome. Males are especially affected, since they do not have another X chromosome to counteract this feature.

3. Physical features

Physical features such as hair color, hair texture, hairline, skin, and varicose veins are inherited from your mother.

4. Menopause and menstruation timing

While not always the case, daughters usually take after their mothers in terms of when they start menstruating and going to menopause

5. Intelligence

Researchers from Glasgow's Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit discovered that socioeconomic position and education have an effect on IQ. According to their findings, the best predictor of intelligence was the mother's IQ. The IQs of participants in this study differed from their mothers by only an average of 15 points.

6. Sleeping patterns

According to a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, mothers pass on their sleeping habits to their children. Children of mothers with insomnia tend to fall asleep later and get less sleep

7. Aging

Several animal studies have shown that maternal genes may influence how their progeny age. Scientists discovered that DNA from the mitochondria, which we only inherit from our mothers, may have a role in controlling the rate of aging. However, these findings have not yet been verified by human trials.

8. Ability to lose or gain weight

You may inherit your mother’s metabolism. However, researchers claim that genetics is not everything when it comes to weight, and that lifestyle choices play an even bigger role.

9. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

According to a few studies, if the mother has lower levels of serotonin, herchild is more likely to develop ADHD later in life. Genes that regulate serotonin production in the brain are passed down from mother to child and appear to have an impact on the ability to focus.

10. Mood

The structure of the corticolimbic system, which regulates emotions and plays a role in mood disorders such as depression, is more likely to be passed down from mothers to daughters than from mothers to sons or from fathers to children of either gender. This could indicate that daughters, at least in part, inherit their mothers' moods.

How much do you inherit from your mother?

Genes are the blueprint for your body, containing all of the instructions for producing proteins that determine how your body functions. 

We inherit one set of genes from our father and one set from our mother, with roughly equal contributions from each:

  • Women inherit 50% of their DNA from each parent.
  • Men inherit approximately 51% from their mother and only 49% from their father.

According to studies, mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother.

How big a role do genetics play in overall health?

While genes play a huge role in your health, the question of whether your genes are affected by your mother’s health is still unclear.

Genes aren't always the decisive factor in disorders such as cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and even heart disease. However, with some disorders, it is nearly guaranteed that if we inherited that gene from our parents, we will also develop the disorder. For example, Huntington's disease is caused by a single gene mutation. If you have a parent with this disease, you have a 50/50 chance of developing it.

Many diseases, however, such as type II diabetes and cancer, are caused by a combination of genetic factors and lifestyle choices. So even if you are genetically predisposed to certain diseases, you can lower your risk by eating healthy, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing stress.


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Medically Reviewed on 4/6/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Blame Your Health on Mom? Not So Fast: https://www.webmd.com/women/features/moms-genes-your-health

Influence of Mom and Dad: Quantitative Genetic Models for Maternal Effects and Genomic Imprinting: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1569723/

Simple Inheritance: https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Human_Biology/Book%3A_Human_Biology_(Wakim_and_Grewal)/08%3A_Inheritance/8.4%3A_Simple_Inheritance