In epidemiological terminology, multifactorial inheritance describes a pattern of predisposition for a disease process which is the result of multiple genetic alterations (mutations) , multiple environmental factors, or a combination of one or more of these two.
Examples of disease processes generally considered to be results of multifactorial etiology:
- Oral cancer
Multifactorial and polygenic disorders
Genetic disorders may also be complex, multifactorial or polygenic, this means that they are likely associated with the effects of multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors. Multifactoral disorders include heart disease and diabetes. Although complex disorders often cluster in families, they do not have a clear-cut pattern of inheritance. This makes it difficult to determine a person’s risk of inheriting or passing on these disorders. Complex disorders are also difficult to study and treat because the specific factors that cause most of these disorders have not yet been identified.