PARENTS

How Scientists Can Tell How Many Children You're Going To Have

But do you want to know?

02/11/2016 12:50 | Updated 02 November 2016

Ever wanted a more reliable way of finding out how many children you will end up having, rather than resorting to a crystal ball? Well now researchers have found a way to make this prediction.

Scientists have revealed that a key predictor for the number of offspring we will have is actually written into our DNA from birth

Joseph McKeown via Getty Images

A research team at the University of Oxford has located twelve areas in our unique DNA sequence that are all linked with the age at which we have our first child and the eventual size of our family.

Reproductive behaviour is of course mainly linked to personal choices or social and environmental factors. However this new research shows genetics are part of the large (and confusing) puzzle too.

Nicola Barban, who worked on the report, says: “Our genetics do not determine our behaviour, but they certainly influence it.”

The study also shows that parts of our DNA linked with the age at which people have their firstborn child are associated with other characteristics reflecting reproduction and sexual development.

For example, DNA that reflects the age at which you started puberty, when girls have their first period or when the father’s voice broke, indicate when you might have your first child. 

Lead author Professor Melinda Mills, added: “We found that women with DNA variants for postponing parenthood also have bits of DNA code associated with later onset of menstruation and later menopause.” 

The researchers believe this DNA insight could one day help doctors answer the question: “How late can I wait to start a family?”

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