Health Library

Health Library

Multifactorial Inheritance

Multifactorial inheritance means that many factors (multifactorial) are involved in causing a health problem. The factors are usually both genetic and environmental, where a combination of genes from both parents, in addition to unknown environmental factors, produce the trait or condition. Multifactorial traits do recur in families, because they are partly caused by genes and shared environmental factors. The chance of a multifactorial trait or condition happening to you depends on how closely the family member with the trait is related to you. For example, the risk is higher if your parent or sibling has the trait or disease than if your first cousin has the trait or disease. Family members have a certain percentage of genes in common, depending on their relationship. For example:

Degrees of Relationship

Percentage of Genes in Common

Example

First-degree relative

50 percent

parents, children, siblings

Second-degree relative

25 percent

aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents

Third-degree relative

12.5 percent

first cousins

An example of a multifactorial trait is height. Some people may be exceptionally short or exceptionally tall, often due to an alteration (mutation) in a single gene that has a major effect on height. However, most of the time, a child's height is similar to, or somewhere between, the parents' height. Some cancers cluster in families as the result of a combination of genetic and shared environmental factors (multifactorial influences). In such cases, generally speaking, the closer in relation a family member with cancer is to you (i.e., the more genes you share), the higher your chance to also develop cancer. In other words, it is more significant for your personal health if one of your parents or siblings develops cancer (or other disease) than if your second cousin develops the disease.

Multifactorial Inheritance - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

I would like to:

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×