Inherited Traits: Passing of Traits From Parents to Offspring

Inherited Traits: Passing of Traits From Parents to Offspring

When you see a trait that your child exhibits which are similar to something you possess, know that this isn’t just some random coincidence. Traits are inherited and passed from parent to child through their genes. Some are passed from the mother and some from the father. Others depend on what traits are most prominent in both the parents, if they are dominant traits and if they run in the family. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about passing of traits from parents to offspring, what are inherited traits and more! 

What is Inherited Traits?

In a baby, there are certain traits belonging to both the parents that he will adopt. The baby might have the father’s nose or the mother’s mouth. The genes of both parent’s influence what traits and characteristics the baby will have and these are called inherited traits.

Role of Genes in Inherited Traits

Children inherit genes from both their mother and father. What we see in the end are the dominant set of genes or dominant genes. Boys have one X and one Y chromosome while girls have two X chromosomes. The X chromosome contains more genes than the Y chromosome, and hence girls will have double the opportunity to exhibit dominant genetic traits inherited from parents than boys. For example, a boy may inherit a blood disorder called haemophilia while his sister will still carry the gene even if she does not have the disorder herself.

What Is The Difference Between Inherited Traits and Acquired Traits?

Let’s see the difference between inherited traits vs acquired traits to understand them both better. 

Inherited Traits Acquired Traits
Inherited traits are the features that a person inherits from their biological parents.
Acquired traits are the features or behaviours that a person acquires over their life.
These are passed down through generations through DNA and genetic material.
These traits are not passed down from generation and each individual develops their own traits.
These traits are dependent on the laws of inheritance.
These traits are dependent on the individual’s environment.
There are many physiological and behavioural elements that can be determined through inherited traits.
It is difficult to pinpoint any characteristics of an individual unless one knows their environment.
Examples: Hair, Skin, Height
Examples: Likes, Dislikes, Cooking Skills

List of Traits Which Are Inherited From Mother

So what traits are inherited from the mother and what from the father? Let’s look at a few genetic traits inherited from mother below:

1. Left-handedness

Being left-handed is pretty rare, so the genes responsible for this trait are also quite complicated. If the baby’s father is left-handed, there is a slight chance the baby might be too, but if his mother is left-handed, then the possibility increases exponentially. If both parents are left-handed, the baby will be so too. Also, if all the people on the mother’s family tree are left-handed, the baby will inherit this trait. There can be other personality traits inherited from mother.


2. Blood sugar

Diabetes is something that is quite easily inherited from parent to child. If the mother carrying a baby was suffering from diabetes pre-pregnancy, her baby could have it too. If the woman can keep her diabetes well under control and blood sugar levels stable during and before pregnancy, she can still deliver a healthy baby. If she has Type 1 diabetes, there is a chance the baby can have low blood sugar soon after birth and for the first few days.

3. Sleeping Style

The mother’s genetics seem to play a huge role in the baby inheriting sleep traits like tossing or turning, and insomnia. But this can also be because most mothers sync their nap time with their babies during the first few months’ post-delivery.

Sleeping Style

4. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a rare inflammatory disease caused by ticks. It is serious but not life-threatening. If a woman is pregnant and has Lyme disease, she can pass it onto her unborn baby. For a baby, Lyme disease is quite fatal so take measures to avoid contracting it before pregnancy to keep your baby safe.

5. Drug Addiction

Addiction can play a huge role in genetics and DNA sequencing. For example, if the mother takes heroin during her pregnancy, it will pass to the baby through her bloodstream. Due to this, the baby will be addicted to heroin when he is born and will have trouble with withdrawal symptoms. Taking heroin while pregnant also increases the chances of premature birth or stillbirth.

Drug Addiction


Mothers who have HIV can pass it on to their unborn babies. If she doesn’t pass it to her child during pregnancy, the child can still contract it via breastfeeding or exchange of body fluids.

7. Mutations

Mutations usually occur when DNA splices itself and comes back together in a slightly different form. Mutations are influenced by the parent’s genes; if the mother has a mutation, it might straighten out in the child or might manifest the same way.


8. Hashimoto’s Disease

This disease happens when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid. Hashimoto’s disease is often passed down from the mother or someone in her family tree. If a mother has some thyroid issues or Hashimoto’s, the children need to be checked as well.

9. Hair Type and Colour

Dominant and recessive genes play a huge role in determining hair colour and type. There is more chance that the baby will inherit the mother’s dominant gene for hair colour and texture.

Hair Type and Colour

10. Huntington’s Disease

This is a very serious disorder which causes a slow breakdown of the nervous system. It gets transferred from mother to child, and there is no real cure. The only prevention is to make sure never to take in any toxins during pregnancy.

11. Mitochondrial Diseases

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother, and hence any diseases related to the mitochondria are also inherited from the mother. These diseases can be caused due to any mutation or defect in the mitochondrial DNA. These usually appear at birth and can affect almost every organ of the body, including the liver, heart, and brain. 

12. Eye Conditions

Recent studies suggest that a person’s eyesight and eye structure are inherited from their mother and so, any eye conditions that the mother has can be passed onto the offspring too. 

List of Traits Which Are Inherited From Father

Below is a list of traits inherited from father to child:

1. Eye Colour

Dominant and recessive genes play a role in determining eye colour of the child. Dark colour eyes are dominant and light coloured eyes are recessive. The baby can have the father’s eyes if they are the dominant colour between both the parents.

2. Height

If the father is tall, there is more chance for the child to also be tall. If the mother is short, the child may grow to be the same height as her. It just depends on the genetics of both parents.


3. Dimples

Dimples can be a trait that babies inherit from their fathers, as it is a dominant trait. It is categorised as a facial deformity but looks adorable on anyone and everyone.

4. Fingerprints

No two human’s fingerprints are the same, and even children will not share fingerprints with either parent. But among the genetic traits inherited from father, the genetic component of fingerprints is most definitely included. Fingerprint patterns between the father and child may not be identical, but extremely similar.


5. Lips

When it comes to lip structure and size of the baby, the father’s genes come into play. Full lips are a dominant trait which the baby can be born with if his father has the same.

6. Sneezing

This has a name, the ‘Achoo’ syndrome – sneezing when someone looks directly into bright light. If the father has this syndrome, then the baby will also exhibit it as it is a dominant genetic trait.


7. Teeth structure

Among the physical traits inherited from father, teeth structure is hereditary. There is a gene which determines the gap which comes between teeth. If the father has a gap tooth, it is very likely the baby will have as well.

8. Mental disorders

Both parents can pass on mental health issues to their children, but studies show that if the father is older and has a mental disorder like schizophrenia or ADHD, it can be passed on to the child as well.

Mental disorders

9. Heart problems

Babies can inherit a gene from their fathers who can increase the risk of coronary heart disease. This is due to the unique genetic makeup of a father who has that gene.

10. Infertility

Studies show that men who have low sperm count and have gotten in-vitro fertilisation can pass their infertility trait to their sons. Recent research has stated that infertility is among genetic traits inherited from father.


11. Biological Sex

This is probably the most important thing you will inherit from your father. Fathers have XY chromosomes which eventually decide the child’s sex. A sex chromosome pairing of XX leads to a female offspring while a XY pairing of the sex chromosomes leads to a male offspring. 

12. Storage of Fat

Genetics play an important role in how our body looks and functions internally. However, researchers have suggested that the father’s adipose tissue has a bigger role in passing on excess fat to the offspring. 

Parents might worry about their children inheriting the same genetic disorders as them. Educating yourself about your family history health is a good step before deciding to have children. Using this information, you can check for any red flags or see what options are available to discuss with your doctor.

Also Read: Characteristics and Traits of Gifted Kids

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