'Granny gene' can affect babies' birthweight

23 March 2012

New research has revealed that a gene variant inherited from mothers may affect the size of newborn baby children or grandchildren.
The PHLDA2 gene was already linked with reduced birthweight, with the suggestion that this function increased the chance of the mother surviving childbirth, in evolutionary terms. However, a variant of the same gene present in around 13% of more than 9,000 people studied was conversely found to increase birthweight by an average of 93g if present in the mother, or as much as 155g if also present in the maternal grandmother.
Gene copies inherited from the father do not affect this phenomenon as they are epigenetically silenced

Researchers are now interested in the long-term health effects of this gene variant, since prenatal development and birth weight is known to have a significant impact on health outcomes (see BBC news). 

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