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Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
Gestational weight gain (GWG) has in numerous studies been associated with offspring birth weight (BW) and childhood weight. However, these associations might be explained by genetic confounding as offspring inherit their mother's genetic potential to gain weight. Furthermore, little is known about whether particular periods of pregnancy could influence offspring body weight differently. We therefore aimed to explore total and trimester-specific effects of GWG in monozygotic (MZ) twin mother-pairs on their offspring's BW, weight at 1 year and body mass index (BMI) at 5 and 10 years. MZ twin mothers born 1962–1975 were identified in national Swedish registers, and data on exposure and outcome variables was collected from medical records. We analyzed associations within and between twin pairs. We had complete data on the mothers’ GWG and offspring BW for 82 pairs. The results indicated that total, and possibly also second and third trimester GWG were associated with offspring BW within the twin pairs in the fully adjusted model (β = 0.08 z-score units, 95% CI: 0.001, 0.17; β = 1.32 z-score units, 95% CI: -0.29, 2.95; and β = 1.02 z-score units, 95% CI: -0.50, 2.54, respectively). Our findings, although statistically weak, suggested no associations between GWG and offspring weight or BMI during infancy or childhood. Our study suggests that total, and possibly also second and third trimester, GWG are associated with offspring BW when taking shared genetic and environmental factors within twin pairs into account. Larger family-based studies with long follow-up are needed to confirm our findings.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
Gestational weight gain (GWG) is a complex trait involving intrauterine environmental, maternal environmental, and genetic factors. However, the extent to which these factors contribute to the total variation in GWG is unclear. We therefore examined the genetic and environmental influences on the variation in GWG in the first and second pregnancy in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin mother-pairs. Further, we explored if any co-variance existed between factors influencing the variation in GWG of the mothers’ first and second pregnancies. By using Swedish nationwide record-linkage data, we identified 694 twin mother-pairs with complete data on their first pregnancy and 465 twin mother-pairs with complete data on their second pregnancy during 1982–2010. For a subanalysis, 143 twin mother-pairs had complete data on two consecutive pregnancies during the study period. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to assess the contribution of genetic, shared, and unique environmental factors to the variation in GWG. A bivariate Cholesky decomposition model was used for the subanalysis. We found that genetic factors explained 43% (95% CI: 36–51%) of the variation in GWG in the first pregnancy and 26% (95% CI: 16–36%) in the second pregnancy. The remaining variance was explained by unique environmental factors. Both overlapping and distinct genetic and unique environmental factors influenced GWG in the first and the second pregnancy. This study showed that GWG has a moderate heritability, suggesting that a large part of the variation in the trait can be explained by unique environmental factors.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
The Swedish Young Male Twins Study is a population-based longitudinal twin study founded in 1997 through record-linkages of several national registers. Details on pregnancy and birth were obtained from the Swedish Medical Birth Register and used to identify 3566 male twins (1783 pairs) born in Sweden between 1973 and 1979 and resident in Sweden in 1997. A record-linkage was made between the Medical Birth Register and the Military Service Conscription Register for the years 1991 to 1999, providing information on body weight, height, blood pressure, muscle strength, cognitive ability of these twins at age 18 and 19 years. In 1998, 2002 and 2005 to 2006, the twins were surveyed on their zygosity, socioeconomic status, lifestyle factors (such as eating habits, physical activity, smoking habits, use of alcohol etc), height and weight. In 2002, additional information was collected on perceived body shape and size, and eating behavior, according to the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire. In 2003, DNA via buccal mucosa was collected from a subset of the twins. Recent research using the Swedish Young Male Twins datasets has explored the relationships between fetal growth, body size and blood pressure in young adulthood, genetic and environmental contributions to eating behavior and physical activity, and relationships between diet and physical activity patterns with longitudinal changes in body mass index and attained waist circumference.
The aim of the present study was to examine the relationships between genetic susceptibility to obesity, physical activity (PA), dietary fibre, sugar and fat intakes and 4-year changes in body mass index (BMI) and attained waist circumference (WC) in a cohort of 287 monozygotic and 189 dizygotic young adult male twin pairs. Increased knowledge about interactions between genes and environment may provide insight into why some individuals are more prone to obesity than others.
Information about PA, BMI, dietary habits, WC and potential confounders was collected by questionnaire in 1998 and 2002. The cohort data were analysed by mixed linear models.
Twins with low PA attained larger WC than twins with high PA (difference 2.5 cm; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3, 3.6). The twins with the lowest fibre intake were found to have attained the highest WC and to have increased most in BMI (difference between highest and lowest fibre intakes: 1.6 cm, 95% CI 0.4, 2.9 and 0.45 kg m−2, 95% CI 0.15, 0.76, respectively). Furthermore, our results suggested the presence of interactions so that twins with genetic susceptibility to obesity were more prone to have larger WC if sedentary than twins without genetic susceptibility.
PA and a diet rich in fibre may be protective against weight gain among younger adult men. An interaction between PA, genes and attained WC is a novel finding which needs confirmation by other studies.
Impaired intellectual performance is associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.
To investigate whether this association is due to the influence of prenatal and early childhood exposures on both intellectual development and the risk of schizophrenia.
Cohort of 197 613 Swedish male conscripts with linked birth, census and hospital admission data together with five measures of verbal and non-verbal intellectual performance recorded at conscription. Results 109 643 subjects had complete data; over a mean 5-year follow-up, 60 developed schizophrenia and 92 developed other non-affective psychoses. Poor scores for each of the five tests were associated with 3-to 14-fold increased risk of psychosis, particularly schizophrenia. Controlling for birth-related exposures, including birth weight, and parental education did not attenuate these associations.
109 643 subjects had complete data; over amean 5-year follow-up,60 developed schizophrenia and 92 developed other non-affective psychoses. Poor scores for each of the five testswere associatedwith 3-to 14-foldincreasedrisk of psychosis, particularly schizophrenia. Controlling for birth-related exposures, including birthweight, and parental education didnot attenuate these associations.
Poor intellectual performance at 18 years of age is associated with early-onset psychotic disorder. Associations do not appear to be confounded by prenatal adversity or childhood circumstances, as indexed by parental education.
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