We all know the significant role that genetics plays in determining certain aspects of our child’s development, especially when it comes to height and weight, however, researchers in Israel have found that it is not the only influence.
In fact, the team at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and Bnai Zion Hospital found that “social and family” interactions play a huge role in determining certain aspect a child’s life.
Calling it the “plasticity in human development”, Professor Hochberg, who helped lead the team, said: “This is called plasticity in human development, which means that environmental conditions such as mother and baby nutrition, social and family interactions, can influence our growth and height.”
According to the research, which has been published on the American Technion Society website, for the first year of a child’s life, the environment in which they live has about a 50% role in determining their adult height.
Explaining their findings, Professor Hochberg said: "Following the genetics revolution, today it is customary to attribute our personal traits to the genes."
"Indeed, there is no doubt that many of our features are genetic. However, as can be seen in our study, environmental conditions have a very significant role -- around 50 percent -- in determining growth and height."
The study, which has been published in the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at 56 pairs of identical twins, 106 pairs of fraternal twins and 106 pairs of siblings who aren’t twins.
Summarising their research, Professor Hochberg said: "Children who are born into and grow up in a malnourished environment will be shorter, and therefore require less food as they get older, while children born into a well-nourished environment will grow to be tall."