An inherited trait is one that is genetically determined. Inherited traits are passed from parent to offspring according to the rules of Mendelian genetics. Most traits are not strictly determined by genes, but rather are influenced by both genes and environment.
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"Inherited" is a word we use to describe traits that are passed by genetics from parents to child. It is often confused with the word "familial", which sometimes people use to mean the same thing. But it's important to recall that familial traits can be either acquired or inherited and can be caused by shared environment. When geneticists use the word "inherited", it's limited to the vertical transmission of traits attributable to genes.
Leslie G. Biesecker, M.D.
Chief and Senior Investigator, Genetic Disease Research Branch; Head, Human Development Section and Physician Scientist Development Program
Dr. Biesecker's research focuses on the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Currently, his laboratory is working on two classes of disorders, classic multiple congenital anomaly syndromes and segmental overgrowth disorders. The goals of his research program are to improve the medical care of patients affected by these disorders, provide generalized knowledge about the broad field of birth defects, and better understand basic mechanisms of normal and abnormal human development. Dr. Biesecker's group studies several multiple congenital anomaly syndromes, including Pallister-Hall syndrome, McKusick-Kaufman syndrome, Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Lenz microphthalmia syndrome.