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​Inherited

updated: September 23, 2022

Definition

Inherited, as related to genetics, refers to a trait or variants encoded in DNA and passed from parent to offspring during reproduction. Inheritance is determined by the rules of Mendelian genetics.

 Inherited


Narration

Inherited. While most medical information is mainly relevant to a specific patient, one of the reasons that inherited genetic information raises so many complicated ethical questions flows from the fact that it can impact everyone in a family. For example, should parents tell their children that they might have inherited a deadly disease with no cure? Is there a responsibility for a patient to track down an estranged relative to let them know that they should be tested for a specific genetic risk? Is it okay to put your genetic information into an ancestry database, knowing that it might lead to a relative finding out that their family relationships weren't exactly what they thought they were? These kinds of questions don't have easy answers. But genetic counselors are available to help think through the implications of genetic testing and inheritance.

Benjamin Berkman
Benjamin E. Berkman, J.D., M.P.H.

Deputy Director

NHGRI Bioethics Core