Research Says Children Inherit Intelligence From Their Mothers

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mom and son

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Genes and genetics are a funny thing. You take two different people, mix them all up, and make a completely different person who has little bits of each of you. And it’s sort of a crapshoot! Will baby get mom’s curly hair? Or dad’s blue eyes? Then, you get into the dominant vs recessive genes, which make it all the more complicated. Your blonde-haired self and your brunette partner somehow managed to have yourselves a little ginger baby – say what?! It’s so interesting! There are so many things at work when it comes to genetics. But science suggests that one very important trait can be chalked up to mom. According to several studies, children inherit intelligence from their mothers. So you can yourself to thank for your smarty-pants kids.

Research suggests that children inherit intelligence from their maternal genes. We’ve been saying all along that women are smarter, so this shouldn’t be surprising!

But how can researchers determine where a kid gets their smarts? It boils down to something called “conditioned genes”. These are genes that behave differently depending on where they came from. They have a special biochemical tag that allows them to be traced, and can even determine whether or not the genes are active. Some conditioned genes only work if they come from mom, and some only work if they come from dad. If that particular gene comes from the other parent, it is deactivated.

Intelligence has a hereditary component. But up until now, it was believed to come from both sets of parental genes. However, intelligence genes are located on X chromosome. So what does that mean? Basically it means that children inherit intelligence from the X chromosome carrier, meaning from MOM. Take that, patriarchy!

Several studies have addressed this fascinating genetic claim.

One of the first studies was done in 1984 at the University of Cambridge. Researchers created embryos of rats that only had the genes of one parent. The embryos died upon transplantation, leading researchers to discover the idea of conditioned genes. Activated genes from the mother are vital to the proper development of an embryo. Paternal genes, on the other hand, contribute to the growth of tissue that will eventually become the placenta.

Robert Lehrke is the researcher who first theorized that intelligence comes from the X chromosome. His study showed that since women have two X chromosomes, they’re twice as likely to transmit intelligence genes onto their children. More recently, a study out of Germany found that the best predictor of intelligence was the IQ of the mother. In that study, the research team interviewed 12,686 young people between the ages of 14-22. The participants were interviewed every year since 1994. On average, the young people’s IQ’s varied about 15 points from their mother’s.

Of course, genetics isn’t the only contributing factor. But it’s still nice to hear that children inherit intelligence from us. We’ve been saying!