How tall will your child be? That's a good question and now, scientists may have found a way to find that out. They've discovered a way to predict adult body height from genetic data, which could be helpful in pediatric endocrinology and even in forensic investigations.
In order to determine if there was a marker in DNA for height, the researchers examined 180 DNA variants previously implicated in normal height variation. These were tested in a Dutch European sample consisting of 770 extremely tall cases and over 9,000 normal height control subjects.
So what did the researchers find? Over 90 percent of these DNA variants showed a height effect in the tall people, and for over 40 percent this effect was statistically significant. This means that predicting tall stature from these 180 DNA variants resulted in an accuracy of .75 on a scale from .5 to 1.0.
"Although the achieved DNA-based prediction accuracy for tall stature is still somewhat lower than we previously established for eye color, hair color and age, I expect that upcoming new knowledge on height genetics will further increase the accuracy in predicting tall stature, and eventually the full range of body height, from DNA," said Manfred Keyser, one of the researchers, in a news release.
Currently, the researchers can use DNA-based prediction for taller-than-average body height. Yet there's still a long way to go when it comes to predicting the exact body height of an individual. Even so, the DNA-based evidence could help with forensic leads.
"In forensics, DNA-based prediction of appearance traits such as height, eye color, hair color and age, is useful to find unknown perpetrators whose conventional DNA profiles are not known to the investigating authorities and who thus escape current DNA identification," said Kayser in a news release.
While more work needs to be done, these new findings are a step in the right direction when it comes to predicting height in individuals. This could be extremely useful in future studies and could have far reaching applications.