Intelligence is inherited from mum and fertility levels from your dad - here's 11 traits passed on by your parents and which one is responsible for each

Now you know who to blame for your receding hairline

Multigenerational family walking in the woods
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you have receding hair? Poor memory? Terrible eyesight? Your parents pass on 11 important traits, and your mum or dad can be more responsible for certain ones than others - we reveal which parent is to 'blame' for your key characteristics.

You can learn positive traits from your parents, and others will depend on the environment you grew up in - seven traits found in adults lacking affection as kids have been identified. Your birth order is even said to have an affect on the characteristics you go on to develop, with kids suffering 'middle child syndrome' said to share the same five.  

There will also be certain traits passed on genetically, and it's been identified that certain parents take more responsibility for some more than others. There are 20,000 genes in your body, and half come from each parent. 

However, only a small number of genes are penetrant, which means if it's passed to you, there's 100% chance you'll get the trait associated with it. It's therefore difficult to know which characteristics you get from each parent - but science has come to the rescue and identified which side of your family influences traits from memory, to eyesight, to fertility - here's who most likely impacted them.  

11 traits passed down to you and which parent influenced them

  1. Intelligence is inherited from your mum. Women are more likely to pass intelligence genes to their kids because they are carried on the X chromosome. As women have two of these and men have one, it doubles the chance your mum made you intelligent. Not only that, it's also thought genes relating to advanced cognitive functions that could be inherited from your dad are, in fact, automatically deactivated.
  2. Your receding hairline is probably inherited from your mum. The jury is still slightly out on this one, although evidence currently points to mum being more responsible than dad. It was always thought mum was responsible for the hair loss gene. However, one study suggests more genetic signals linked to hair loss came from dad, rather than mum. However, more evidence is required and this difficult trait can also be influenced by external factors such as pregnancy, illness, stress and others - which is why an overall consensus is lacking.  
  3. Your cancer risk is inherited from your mum and dad. Both have equal influence in this difficult trait. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is a genetic disease and genetic changes that increase the risk of cancer can be passed down if present in either egg or sperm cells. If a parent passes a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene to their child their cancer risk will be higher, but doesn’t mean they will definitely get cancer. 
  4. Your fertility is inherited from your dad. Research suggests that in normal egg cells, a part called the centriole is naturally eliminated. Due to genetic dysfunction from the father's side, this elimination occasionally doesn't happen. In this case, a woman will be left infertile.
  5. How well you sleep is inherited from your mum. A study suggests mothers reporting poor sleep are more likely to have a child reporting similar sleep issues in early childhood, with problems likely to extend into adolescence. The genetic predisposition to insomnia was specifically related to mothers reporting insomnia-like symptoms such as frequent awakenings or difficulty initiating sleep.
  6. Memory is inherited from your mum. There's been ongoing talk of a family history of Alzheimer’s disease meaning children of sufferers have a higher chance of developing the illness themselves. However, recent research points to your mum being more likely to pass down that genetic risk. Identifying risk through family history can help mitigate them and take steps to protect your brain.
  7. Cholesterol is inherited from your mum and dad. You can be as healthy and active as you like but sadly, if high cholesterol runs in your family you can still have high levels that pose a serious risk to your health. There's no symptoms for raised cholesterol, and  it can stealthily creep up to make chances of heart attack and stroke worse. If you have a family history, you should get regular checks.  
  8. Ability to focus is inherited from your mum. It's suggested that genes regulating serotonin production are inherited from your mum. Mothers passing down lower levels of serotonin are linked to children with reduced ability to focus, and the development of ADHD
  9. Vision problems are inherited from your mum and dad. While some vision issues are naturally occurring and nothing to do with your parents, some vision-affecting conditions are passed down genetically. These include Stargardt disease, Usher syndrome and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). You're likely to already be aware if these conditions run in your family, and an ophthalmologist can talk you through your options.
  10. Weight is inherited from you mum and dad. How much brown fat you have and the speed of your metabolism is thought to be inherited from your mum, according to a study. Brown fat regulates your body temperature and is responsible for burning calories and storing energy. The same research also suggests how much fat you store is passed down in genes from your dad. However, there's still no clear consensus on the genetic influence on weight disorders, with some scientists believing genes account for just 25 per cent of the predisposition to be overweight, while others claim this could be as high as 70 to 80 per cent. 
  11. When you hit puberty is inherited from your dad. All the body changes that come with puberty especially if they arrive early, can be blamed on your dad. Although both parents play some part in the genetic onset of puberty, if you enter this era before the age of eight in girls and nine in boys, it could be because of your dads genes - he is said to be the one responsible for the genetic mutation leading to premature puberty. 

Did you know you can also inherit your grandparents' trauma, even if you've never met them. Of all the traits parents can pass down, inheriting their personality is less likely than you think, but your facial features could be influenced by what your mum ate during pregnancy.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.