Ladies, do you think it’s written in your genes that you’ll eventually turn into your mother? Have you noticed shades of her emerging as the years go by? Do you find that, the older you become, the more you drive like her? Can you walk past a ‘special offer’ sign in a supermarket these days without rushing home armed with items that will fill your cupboard until they go out of date?
Betcha the over-riding response to at least one of the above is a big ‘Yes’. Whether you’re proud to emulate her or want to hide under the bed when you hear your mother’s words and tone coming out of your own mouth, you can’t beat nature (as my grandmother would have put it). I suppose it’s inevitable, really, seeing as she was our window into the world during our formative years. For me, the signs have never been stronger since I became a parent myself, as I waltz my teething toddler around the floor singing songs I haven’t heard since I was the one cutting molars. And I’ve never been more interested in whether an offspring is more likely to take on the traits of his mother or father.
Apart from the characteristics that we pick up from spending those influential early years attached to the apron strings, have you ever considered what else you’ve inherited from your mother – and the repercussions thereof. A fascinating article recently published in Women’s Health magazine prompted me to research the subject a little further…and make a list of health questions for my own mother.
I reckon we’ve all discussed how the world seems to get smaller as we get older. Like your favourite chocolate bar that is definitely half the size it was ten years ago, or the choc ice that could now pass for a snack size. But have you ever pondered whether your female relatives were shrinking as they got older and perhaps put it down to the fact that you’ve acquired a few inches since your Holy Communion days? If your mother is not looking as tall in her high heels as she used to, it could be sign of osteoporosis. And if she has osteoporosis, there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll develop it too. To avoid this downsizing, you should think about getting at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, either from low-fat dairy or in supplement form, and include some strength-training into your exercise regime, since bones get stronger in response to force.
Unbelievably, research indicates that a mother’s health while she is pregnant is a key player in determining the adult height of the child she is carrying. If you’re thinking of extending your own family any time soon, it’s worth asking your mother how her pregnancy was overall. If she spent the first three months bent over the toilet bowl, there’s a good possibility you’ll fall in for a bout or two of morning sickness too. If she had a C-section due to a narrow or unevenly aligned pelvis, you could face a similar ‘baby-won’t-budge’ situation in the delivery room. You can also inherit a higher risk for blood-clotting disorders, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and high protein levels in the urine.
It’s worth being aware of mental health issues in your mother, even if she’s never discussed or addressed them. Studies show that having a parent with clinical depression or anxiety makes you two to three times more prone to dark days than someone without an immediate family history.
Suncream only came into fashion when I was growing up so many mothers of the previous generation simply covered up in the sun or suffered a roasting. However research indicates that no matter how careful you are about protecting your skin, you’re still more likely to have skin damage if your mother does. If you do have a family history of skin cancer, you should use sunscreen religiously, even if you have dark skin. Mind you, the upshot of this is if your mother looks more like your sister you’re likely to inherit this youthful complexion too.
Lads, the news isn’t so good for ye I’m afraid. According to the science boffins, you could inherit baldness from your mother’s genes. If you’ve noticed your forehead becoming more prominent by the day, look to your grandfather on your mother’s side as research suggests his crowning glory (or lack thereof) could be an indication of how your silken tresses will fare out over time.
Ok, calm down, I’m not suggesting you can (as you once did in adolescence) blame your mother for everything that goes wrong in your life. But science does suggest that looking to your mother could predict the future of your own health. Take the fact that women tend to go through the menopause at the same age as their mothers did, or that you’re at a higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes if your mother has it.
There’s no need to get paranoid, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re bound to get the same illness and diseases. But being aware of your mother’s health history is a great step towards learning to spot signs early to protect yourself.