- A study finds that the gene AVPR1A and its allele RS3 can influence maternal behavior.
- Numerous women are believed to carry the allele, which was previously also tied to autism.
- Environmental factors, other genes, drugs and training can help to override inherited predispositions for bad parenting.
Whether or not a woman is a good mother is at least partly controlled by genetics, according to a new paper that identifies a key responsible gene, AVPR1A, and in particular one of its alleles, called RS3.
The findings, published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, strengthen the growing body of evidence supporting that genetics can affect parenting skills.
"Based on previous studies and our current study, it is safe to say that some parental behaviors, such as sensitivity, supportiveness and responsiveness are, in part, genetically influenced," co-author Ariel Knafo told Discovery News.
"The R3 allele that we linked in the current study to lower levels of maternal gentle guidance (i.e. use of reasoning, polite requests, positive comments, or suggestions) and structuring (i.e. preventing distractions, setting goals, and demonstrating and explaining certain actions or materials to the child) during a play interaction, was previously linked by us to preschoolers' lower altruistic behavior and generosity," added Knafo, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.