Many physical and mental illnesses are genetic or hereditary, whether partially or completely, the contributing factor is genetic, nevertheless.

For example, you are born into a family that has genetic illness e.g. anxiety disorder, compulsive disorder, cancer, diabetes, to name a few.

The question is, since genetic or hereditary illness will then pass down to your children. If you get married and have children, as parents, are you doing bad kamma?


3 Answers 3


Hereditary illness or not...the offspring you will produce will become old, fall ill and die. The dukkha is inevitable. We may as well say that dukkha is hereditary to all humans so should we have kids?

If your intention in having a child is good, if the child is born out of love and not lust, if child is born not out of any form of sexual misconduct...then you will be fine...there will be no bad kamma.

  • What do you mean “kamma will be merciful?” Can you elaborate in your answer the intended meaning here? Is kamma like a judge or jury or a god in that it weighs the evidence and punishes or rewards people?
    – user13375
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 18:36
  • @Yeshe Tenley my sincere apologies, I was not being technically right. I was trying to be poetic ascribing it somewhat anthropomorphic role. I changed the answer.
    – user13135
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 20:07
  • @BodhiWalker but we know heredity will be passed down to our children, yet we still want to have children. Would that be the same as you know there is an ant on the floor yet you step on it, if this counts as killing then why the former one doesn't count as passing down the illness?
    – B1100
    Commented May 12, 2018 at 16:22
  • @B1100 no it will not be same. If you deliberatly step on ant your intention is to harm life that is bad karma. In case of giving birth to child your intention was not to harm her. But still if you are filled with so much compassion towards unborn child you should not have child. You might be passibg down the illness but that is not your true intention, simultaneously you are also giving her a chance to become a Buddha. In any case suffering is inevitable.
    – user13135
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 2:33
  • @BodhiWalker He is aware there is ant, steps on it but his intention is to go to work, not killing. The same thing as heredity illness, it's not the parents' intention to pass down the illness to the child. But why the former one still counts as killing although his intention is to go to work yet the latter one does not count as passing down the illness, both of them do not have intention to harm, right? When we aware about something, does it mean there is intention?
    – B1100
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 4:48

The occurence of genetically inherited diseases are in most cases, not 100%. There is always a chance that they may or may not manifest. Part of this depends on lifestyle and environmental reasons as well. Some diseases like diabetes and heart disease can be avoided or delayed by lifestyle modifications.

Genetics can be quite complex - two siblings who are not identical twins, may not experience the same type of diseases or medical problems.

That being said, kamma depends on one's intentions. If you had children without evil intentions, then it's not bad kamma.

Whether your children would get a specific disease or not, cannot be known with perfect certainty. However, with perfect certainty, we can say that they will grow old, experience disease and death. They will also experience pain and pleasure. They will also burn with the fires of passion, aversion and delusion, for as long as they are unenlightened.

The fact that your child would experience sufferings of any kind, is not caused by their birth. Birth is merely a symptom of suffering. It's not the cause of suffering.

You should not feel responsible for the phenomena of samsara. It moves along perfectly fine on its own.

  • Shantideva I think says that we should feel responsible for Samsara in the sense that we should make it our goal to dispel the miseries of the world... do you disagree? The fact that our mere existence in Samsara is a condition for others suffering is one aspect of the first noble truth. @ruben2020
    – user13375
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 17:47
  • @ruben2020 you can also step on an ant without evil intention. But I believe when you step on ant you cannot have other intention other than evil intention, then why it doesn't work the same as having children and passing down the illness?
    – B1100
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 15:20

Your Karma, good or bad, will depend on how you treat, raise, and teach your child. It is What you do with him/her, that will result in good/bad/neutral karma.

Hence, by just bringing a child into the world, it is neither a good or bad karma, it is neutral.

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