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Twin–Singleton Differences in Intelligence: A Register-Based Birth Cohort Study of Norwegian Males

  • Willy Eriksen (a1), Jon M. Sundet (a1) (a2) and Kristian Tambs (a1)

Abstract

The aim was to determine the difference in intelligence between singletons and twins in young adulthood. Data from the Medical Birth Register of Norway were linked with register data from the Norwegian National Conscript Service. The study base consisted of data on the 445,463 males who were born alive in either single or twin births in Norway during 1967–1984 and who were examined at the time of the mandatory military conscription (age 18–20). Within this study base, there were data on 1,653 sibships of full brothers that included at least one man born in single birth and at least one man born in twin birth (4,307 persons, including 2,378 twins and 1,929 singletons). The intelligence scores of the singletons were 11% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9–14%) of a standard deviation higher than those of the twins, after adjustment for birth year, birth order, parental ages at delivery, parental education levels, and other factors. The adjusted within-family difference was also 11% (95 % CI: 6–16%) of a standard deviation, indicating that unmeasured factors shared by siblings (e.g., maternal body height) have not influenced the estimate in important ways. When gestational age at birth was added to the model, the estimate for the difference in intelligence score was approximately the same. Including birth weight in the model strongly reduced the estimate. In conclusion, twins born in Norway during 1967–1984 had slightly lower intelligence in early adulthood compared with the singletons.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Dr. Willy Eriksen, Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404, Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway. E-mail: w-bjarer@online.no

References

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