London: Genes play a small role in determining a child`s reading ability, a new study has found.
Researchers looked at the relationship between children`s reading scores and their social background using data from a study of 5,000 children.
They then looked at how children`s different genetic make-up for genes tied to reading affected those scores.
They found genes accounted for just 2 percent of the achievement gap between those of high and low social background, the BBC reported.
Researchers from the Institute of Education, University of London, used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study to assess whether the tendency for those from a lower social background to have poorer reading skills than those from children of professional backgrounds was down to genetic differences.
Results of reading tests sat at seven, nine and 11 were then divided into five socio-economic groups.
The researchers found that children with professional parents scored on average 60 out of 100, while children with unskilled parents scored an average of 42, leaving a gap of 18 test points.
They then took data on the children`s DNA bases and looked at how variations in them tied in with children`s reading scores.
They did this by analysing the impact of three genes, KIAA0319, CMIP and DCDC2, said to influence reading ability.
They found the genetic factors explained just 2 percent of the 18-point achievement gap - the equivalent of less than half of one test point, according to the researchers.
"We were thinking that there would be a comprehensive and substantial link because of previous research, but that`s not what we found," Dr John Jerrim said.
Earlier studies focusing on twins have suggested that 75 percent of the variance in children`s reading skills is down to genetic factors, but this new research appears to challenge such claims.