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expert reaction to paper identifying 12 genetic loci linked to human reproductive behaviour

A paper published in the journal Nature Genetics has reported the identification of a number of specific areas of the genome associated with age at which a first child is born and number of children ever born.


Prof. Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at the University of Kent, said:

“The important message to the study is that ‘association is not causation’. This is a very important study in that it is among the first to find genetic variants that may be related to ‘age at first birth’ (AFB) and ‘number of children ever born’ (NEB). The magnitude of such effects however is small and, only by looking at such an impressively large data set, do they manage to observe any effect at all. What is also impressive about the study is the wide range of academic disciplines that have been brought together.

“It is crucial not to go away with the message that there will soon be a genetic test that predicts how many children you will have and the age at which you will have the first one.  Genetics is not about fortune telling. Rather the paper is an important one in helping us to understand all the factors that have come together to understand a very complex and socially relevant phenomenon. The discovery that there are genetic as well as psycho-social factors at play is absolutely fascinating.”


‘Genome-wide analysis identifies 12 loci influencing human reproductive behavior’ by Nicola Barban et al. published in Nature Genetics on Monday 31 October 2016. 


Declared interests

Prof. Griffin:

President of the International Chromosome and Genome Society;
Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction (CISoR);

Treasurer of the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society

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