Is my height hereditary?


I’m sure it’s a question many tall girls have views on  – is my height hereditary?

Often when strangers first meet a tall girl, one of the first things they ask is “Are you parents tall?”. Well, yes my parents are tall – 5ft9 and 6ft2 – but they aren’t exceptionally tall, as I am at 6ft2. What’s also unusual is that my big brother is only 5ft11.  Personally,  I generally (jokingly!) attribute this to the fact that I grew up at home on a dairy farm whilst he was sent away to school – maybe milk straight from the cow does make you tall and strong?!

What is for sure is that I was always tall. I was a great, big, long baby at over 11lbs and throughout my childhood I was always the tallest child in school, until my teens when one boy overtook me.

As I started to consider what I thought about height in families, I realized I had always assumed that when I have children, they too will be very tall. But is this true?

There are lots of genes which affect height from those that produce growth hormone to those which affect bone growth  and many in between. What is that while height is partially hereditary a definite is that nutrition and environmental factors also play a significant part in how tall you become.

For instance, it is well publicized that if your mother smokes and/or drinks alcohol during pregnancy, this can affect the birth weight of the baby but according to research, it can also affect you eventual adult height. Nutrition is an important factor – for both the pregnant woman and of the growing child in their formative years. In developed countries such as  the United States, height is estimated to be 80% hereditary whereas in developing countries such as Nigeria, it is only estimated to be 62%. This is attributed to the overall better standard of living such as nutrition and healthcare which is found in the US.

So, it seems that whilst we are  born with a genetic  potential for height, it is the environment that we grow up in that will enable us to fulfill that potential or not. Maybe it was the milk after all!

What do you think? Are you from a family of giants or are you (like me) the odd one out?

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