The Genetics of Human Height

Human height is a quantitative trait or characteristic that is measured in quantity. It is determined largely by two major factors: genetic factors and environmental factors. Environmental factors entail nutrition, climate, habits, and lifestyle.

Several scholarly works have estimated the hereditability of human height. The estimation is done by assessing the degree of resemblance between relatives. Moreover, it is also important to note that different ethnic populations have different genetic backgrounds and live in different localities. Therefore, height hereditability tends to vary from one population to another.

Many genetic variants are linked to height. However, there is no genetic variant that appears to have very strong effects. Recently, scientists that took part in the International Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium identified 83 new DNA changes that can have strong effects on height, affecting the stature of a person. To identify the 83 new variants, the researchers examined over 700,000 volunteers. Out of the 83 variants, 24 were found to affect height by over 1 cm.

Joel Hirschhorn, a geneticist at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Broad Institute, has previously stated that there are approximately 700 that affect height. According to some geneticists such as David Goldstein of Columbia University, height is very complex, and every gene in the genome may ultimately be associated with the trait.



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