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The multiple regression analysis of twin data in which a cotwin's score is predicted from a proband's score and the coefficient of relationship (the basic model) provides a statistically powerful test of genetic etiology. When an augmented model that also contains an interaction term is fitted to the same data set, direct estimates of heritability (h2) and the proportion of variance due to shared environmental influences (c2) are obtained. A simple transformation of selected twin data prior to regression analysis facilitates direct estimates of h2g (an index of the extent to which the difference between the mean of probands and that of the unselected population is heritable) and a test of the hypothesis that the etiology of deviant scores differs from that of variation within the normal range.
The NHLBI Twin Study is a longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in 514 pairs of white, middle aged, male, veteran twins. The initial examination took place between 1969-1973. Ten years later, 81% of the living cohort returned for a second examination. Data collected up to 30 years prior to recruitment for the initial examination were used to characterize participants and nonparticipants; data from the initial examination were used to characterize returnees and nonreturnees to the second examination. Participants had significantly lower diastolic blood pressure and higher socioeconomic status than nonparticipants as measured thirty years earlier. Between the first and second examinations, the mortality of participants was less than 50% of the mortality of nonparticipants. Returnees to the second examination had a better health profile at the initial examination than nonreturnees, with significantly lower levels of cigarette smoking, glucose intolerance, hypertension, and diabetes and higher levels of pulmonary function. However, returnees were more obese than nonreturnees. Thus, this study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in twins appears to be affected by response bias in a way similar to studies of individuals. Additional analyses of biases that may affect the genetic component of the study indicated that factors related to classical twin analyses were relatively unaffected by selection.
We examined the placentas of 182 like-sexed live-born twins: 73 placentas (40.1%) were monochorionic and 109 (59.9%) were dichorionic. All twin pairs with monochorionic placentas were monozygotic (MZ), but 28.9% of pairs with dichorionic placentas were MZ. Analysis of birth weights demonstrated that dichorionic and dizygotic (DZ) twins were heaviest, and suggested that the chorion status is a more important determinant of birth weight than zygosity. Vascular anastomoses were identified only in monochorionic placentas and occurred in 79.5% of cases. All placentas with deep anastomoses had superficial anastomoses. A higher proportion of velamentous and marginai insertions of the umbilical cord in monochorionic placentas (27.4%) compared to dichorionic placentas (13.8%) supports the belief that lateral placental growth is greatest in twin gestations in which the embryos are initially most closely apposed — The theory of trophotropism.
Ten pairs of full-term and 8 pairs of preterm twins from combined vaginal and Cesarean section deliveries were evaluated on measures of neonatal temperament, developmental status, and integrity to determine if the Cesarean-delivered infant was compromised relative to its vaginally-delivered twin. There were no significant differences, within groups, between the vaginal and Cesarean section infants on measures of risk and developmental status. Analyses of variance of paired comparisons performed on the temperament measures indicated that, for the full-term group, there were no significant differences in ratings between vaginally and Cesarean-delivered infants. In contrast, preterm infants delivered by Cesarean section were more active during sleep than their vaginally-delivered cotwins. This finding, together with previous findings demonstrating a relation between this measure and temperament at 9, 18, and 24 months of age, suggested that the preterm Cesarean-delivered infant may be at risk in this area when compared with its twin. In the main, however, the results demonstrated that infants born by Cesarean section following vaginal delivery of their twins were not more compromised than their twin siblings.
A case-control study was conducted on the termination of menstrual life on mothers of twins. It involves a much larger data base and finer analyses, and makes use of the same methodology of a previous study. The time interval between the twin and the last confinement proved to be shorter in twin-bearing mothers than in a matched set of controls with singletons only after blocking of the effect of birth order, and despite the similarity of maternal age at delivery and confinements numbers. Mothers of like-sex twins only appeared to terminate reproductive life earlier than controls. The separate study of maternal age at twin confinement shows that the earlier the twin birth the shorter the menstrual life thereafter. Both like-sex twin births and early maternal age at delivery of a twin pair have the same shortening effect on subsequent menstrual life without clear evidence of additivity of effects as if both occurrences were alternatives with similar biological effects. Comparison of the results of the current study with those of our earlier analysis shows consistency on above results. However, the current study could not reproduce previous results on the role of unlike-sex twins or late maternal age at delivery on time to last confinement; yet, they cannot be discarded. It is suggested that increased power of interaction analyses and tighter matching of controls with respect to sex might improve the conclusions of subsequent studies.
A comparison was made of the stature of women, twinning rates, and breast cancer mortality for 32 countries. As height increased, so did twinning and breast cancer mortality (P < 0.005). Dizygotic twinning and breast cancer increased sharply with the mean height of the female population. With due caution in drawing causal inferences when uncontrolled confounding variables are present, it is suggested that these findings are an evolutionary consequence of the high mortality found in twin pregnancy.
Twinning rates were studied in Swedes, Åland Islanders, Finns, Germans, and Dutch during years of starvation when death rates were two to three times higher than average. In contrast to the situation among some animals, this study suggests that nutrition above a certain threshold is unimportant for human reproduction, including twinning. The twinning rates for these different populations display marked temporal differences, but low values in the twinning rate are not consistently associated with periods of epidemics, famine, or similar nutritional stress. After years of privation and/or separation of spouses, a rapid “catch-up effect” can often be seen in the twinning rates, as well as marriage and birth rates. Psychoendocrine factors and interparental immunological conditions that may be involved in this phenomenon are discussed.
The frequency of triplets in the U.S. white population may have reached an all-time low around 1964, at 78 sets per million deliveries. One-fourth of those were monozygotic as estimated by the difference method, or 18% by Bulmer's theoretical model. By 1983 the frequency of triplets had nearly doubled, the increase presumably occurring in dizygotic and trizygotic types. In Belgium most triplet pregnancies now result from artificial induction of ovulation, which is expected to occur mainly in older mothers. In the U.S., however, triplets have increased as much in young mothers as in older mothers, proportionally. This age distribution of the increase may be partly explained by a decrease in parity in older mothers since 1964.
The rise in twinning rates previously reported for U.S. between 1964 and 1987 after adjustment for maternal age and birth order occurred in each of the nine conventional geographic divisions except the Pacific States. Differences and consistencies in rank order among the divisions with respect to crude and adjusted twinning rates and other demographic parameters may hold clues to yet unidentified influences in twinning.
The perinatal outcome of twin births in Australia is described from 1973 to 1980. Over that period, the perinatal mortality rate declined more slowly in twins that singletons. The stillbirth rate actually increased in twins due to a rise in antepartum deaths. An increasing proportion of monozygotic twins may have contributed to this trend. The overall perinatal mortality rate was 82.85/1,000 for twins and 16.49/1,000 for singletons, giving a relative risk of 5.0.
The influence of maternal age and congenital malformations on perinatal mortality in twins in Australia from 1973 to 1980, is described. Stillbirths and neonatal deaths in twins fell with advancing maternal age. For teenage mothers, the twin perinatal mortality rate was 127.15/1,000. The sex ratio in twins is closer to unity than in singletons. Perinatal mortality due to malformation fell as maternal age increased up to 35 years. The role of zygosity and the distribution of birth weight with maternal age are discussed.
A study of perinatal mortality in multiple pregnancy over a period of 12 years, 1972 to 1984, showed prematurity and low birthweight as the major causes of fetal loss. The highest risk was found at 28 to 30 weeks gestation (306/1,000). There was a significantly greater risk to babies delivered by the breech (136/1,000), and likewise in the second twin when compared with the first, ratio 1:1.4. A significant drop in the perinatal mortality rate, from 98/1,000 to 39/1,000, was observed between 1972-1978 and 1979-1984. Ultrasound has facilitated the earlier diagnosis of twins and provides more accurate serial fetal assessment. Bedrest, more vigilant antenatal care, intrapartum surveillance and improved neonatal care, are required to maintain and further reduce the perinatal mortality rate. When regional analgesia was employed in labour, the number of babies lost was 41/1,000, vs 93/1,000 in patients not receiving regional analgesia. External cephalic version and vertex delivery of the second twin is preferable to internal version and breech extraction. It should also be contemplated, as an alternative to elective cesarean section for a transverse lie or brrech presentation of the second fetus.
Nation-wide data in Japan on the 112 sets of conjoined twins from fetal deaths and from postnatal deaths during 1979-1985 were analysed. Female conjoined twins accounted for 60% of cases. The incidence rate of conjoined twins remained Constant except in 1985. Overall incidence rate was 10 per million births. Maternal age effect was found in mothers over the age of 40, where the highest incidence rate was obtained. The incidence rate of conjoined twins increased with birth order. There was no seasonal variation in the time of conception.
A patient wrongly referred as a possible victim of thalidomide showed the three classical cardinal features of the EEC syndrome, plus severe mental retardation, an unusual finding in this condition. His twin brother was similarly affected, and died at four months of age due to complications caused by the malformations. Their normal parents were first cousins. The concordance of the manifestation in the twins and the parents' consanguinity suggest that they had the recessive form of the EEC syndrome.