Ever wonder how much of your height you inherited from your parents? A large-scale genetic study published recently in the journal Nature is helping shed some light on the factors that determine whether a person grows to be 6-feet-1 or 5-feet-2. While scientists already had a good idea of the most common genetic factors that contribute to height, the new findings uncover a number of rare genetic alterations that can play a surprisingly major role in human growth. Using data from the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits consortium (a group also known as GIANT), scientists from the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard analyzed genetic information from more than 700,000 people, discovering 83 DNA changes that play a part in determining a person’s height.
“Overall, common variants still contribute more to height than rare variants,” Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, the study’s lead author and a professor of pediatrics and genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told The Huffington Post. “But, for the person who happens to carry one of the rare variants, the impact can be much greater than for common variants. For the variants we looked at, this was up to almost an inch… as opposed to a millimeter or less for the common variants.”
According to the study’s authors, this method of testing rare genetic variants could be used to investigate uncommon DNA changes involved in other aspects of human health.