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Intrauterine environment and cognitive development in young twins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2013

E. E. Antoniou
Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
T. Fowler
Department of Public Health, Heart of Birmingham Teaching PCT, Birmingham, UK
E. Thiery
Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
T. R. Southwood
Institute of Child Health, University of Birmingham, UK
S. van Gestel
Centre of Human Genetics, University Hospitals Leuven & Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven, Belgium
N. Jacobs
Department of Psychology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
R. Vlietinck
Centre of Human Genetics, University Hospitals Leuven & Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven, Belgium
J. van Os
Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
F. V. Rijsdijk
King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
C. Derom
Centre of Human Genetics, University Hospitals Leuven & Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven, Belgium
M. P. Zeegers
Department of Complex Genetics, Cluster of Genetics and Cell Biology, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands


Intrauterine factors important for cognitive development, such as birth weight, chorionicity and umbilical cord characteristics were investigated. A total of 663 twin pairs completed the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised and scores were available for Performance, Verbal and Total Intelligence Quotient (IQ). The intrauterine factors examined were birth weight, placental weight and morphology, cord knots, cord length and cord insertion. IQ scores for the varying levels of the intrauterine markers adjusting for gender and gestational age were calculated. The heritability of IQ and the association between IQ and intrauterine environment were examined. Twins with lower birth weight and cord knots had lower IQ scores. The aetiology of IQ is largely distinct from that of birth weight and cord knots, and non-shared environment may influence the observed relationships.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2013 

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