Like Mother Like Daughter

You may not dress like her yet, but there’s a good chance you’re already acting like her. Now studies show you might be more like your mother then you think. If you’re wondering what age you’ll hit the menopause or go grey look no further. The fact that living things inherit traits from their parents has been used since prehistoric times to improve crop plants and animals through selective breeding. The modern science of genetics, which seeks to understand the process of inheritance, began with the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. Although he did not know the physical basis for heredity, Mendel observed that organisms inherit traits via discrete units of inheritance, which are now called genes. We look at the genes that can be seen as both a blessing and a curse in modern society…

Labour and Pregnancy

If you want to know what kind of labour you’re likely to have, ask your mum! There is a link from mother to daughter to having pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), and babies that are small for their gestational age. If your mother had you preterm (before 37 weeks), your risk of having a preterm baby is also increased. If either you or your partner were born breech, your children are twice as likely to be born breech too.

Anorexia

There is an ongoing debate about the media’s influence on girl’s body image, but as anorexia is recorded as early as the sixteenth century, research now suggests there is a genetic cause. Genetics are a key factor in predicting if we are predisposed to suffering from an addiction or even a psychological illness. A study found 10 per cent of females that suffered from bulimia or anorexia had a relative that suffered. According to the Eating Disorders Association, about 20 per cent of people suffering from an eating disorder or any kind have inherited it from one of their parents. For info visit http://www.eatingdisorders.ie

Twins

Twins may be cute but they take a lot of hard work. If you are concerned about having twins or even hope to have them you should look to your family history. Non-identical twins (when two eggs are fertilised by two different sperm) run in families, usually along the female side. So if there is a history of twins in your mother’s family you are more likely to have twins yourself. Everyone has around 1 in 250 chance of having identical twins (where one embryo splits to create two babies that share exactly the same DNA) because they are not inherited.

 

Longevity

If she lived to a ripe old age there’s a good chance you will too. A recent study revealed that children of parents that lived to be at least 97 years old had an array of health benefits. They have a 78 per cent lower risk for heart attack, are 83 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke, have an 86 per cent lower risk of diabetes and are 81 per cent less likely to die than people of a similar age. But if your parents or grandparents didn’t live long, don’t worry. Recent trends in life expectancy also show everyone is living longer then their parents. For example while a 65-year-old male might, in 1997, have expected to die at 83, the figure for 2005 is over 86 and the projected figure for 2015 is nearly 90. Add to that, of course, that women live an average of seven years longer than men!

Snoring

If either of your parents kept the house awake at night with their thunderous snoring, then studies show you’re three times more likely to do the same! You can tell that to the next person who complains about your snoring. Fifty per cent of snorers are overweight, so it could be that you’ve inherited a larger figure. There is also a link between snoring and allergies, which can be inherited too. To ease this, opt for a hypoallergenic bedding or shift the extra pounds if you’re affected.

Osteoporosis

It is possible to start suffering problems with your bones as early as in your forties. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by a reduction in bone density and a decrease in their strength, resulting in fragile bones. Eight per cent of our bone health is inherited from our parents. If either of your parents suffers from a hip fracture as a result of osteoporosis, your risk is three times more than usual. But you can still reduce your risk by stopping smoking, doing exercise and eating a diet rich in calcium. For more info visit http://www.irishosteoporosis.ie

Fertility

If you’re struggling to conceive, it may be related to how old your mother was when she had you. Research carried out with women attending a fertility clinic showed they were less likely to conceive if they’d been born to older mothers. There is also thought to be a link between sperm count and sperm mobility so if your partners parents took longer to conceive, it could be worth getting your other half checked out too.

Menopause

The average age for menopause is 51, however, women tend to go through the menopause at the same age their mothers did. If your mother had an early menopause, the chances are you will too. Early menopause can increase the risk of having a stroke, heart attack or osteoporosis, so it may be worth finding out if you fall into this category.

Hair Loss and Greying

Distinguished, silver – whatever you want to call it. In more cases, people go grey at the same age their parents did, and there is very little that can be done to prevent it – although you can always dye it if it bothers you. Hair loss is determined by genes, and as many as two-thirds of women will experience it. Androgenetic alopecia, affecting around 40 per cent of women, is the main cause of hair thinning and can be inherited.

Depression

Feeling the blues? Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate, such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarraige, postnatal period, pre-menopause and menopause. Research at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine found if your mother suffered from major depression, then the risk of it happening to you is two or three times higher. If you are at an increased risk, be aware and ask for support early. For more info visit http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie

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