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The study of developmental processes in twins furnishes a powerful resource for examining the role of gene-action systems in guiding the course of growth [2,9].
While there is a steady and rapid progression from birth onward, the growth rate is not entirely uniform for a given child, but rather moves in episodes of acceleration and lag. The timing of the growth spurts follows a distinctive pattern for each child, and consequently a child who may be smaller than average at one age may then enter a phase of rapid growth, and ultimately catch up with or surpass his peers at a later age.
The effect of such individualized patterns of growth is that many children may change in relative size from one age to the next; and in this sense it may appear that the underlying developmental processes are erratic, rather than coherent. But if there is an underlying ground plan, a chronogenetic pattern, then the distinctive developmental gradients should unfold in synchrony for twins sharing the same genetic make-up. Episodes of acceleration and lag in growth would then occur in parallel for both twins and would presumably represent the activity of timed gene-action systems, which switch on and off according to a predetermined plan.
The behavior of 120 full term and 160 preterm newborn twins was assessed in several key areas: Irritability, soothability, reactivity, reinforcement value, and activity level. Infants were assessed during various situations so that aggregate, or summary, scores representing each behavioral area could be obtained. Evaluations were made during a feeding period, an active sleep period, an awake alert period during which orienting and interactional behaviors were observed, a quiet period during which reactivity to stress was observed, and any fussy periods during which irritability and soothability were assessed. Significant within-twin-pair concordance of behavior was obtained for each of the areas of behavior, suggesting the influence of constitutional variables on neonatal behavior. Analysis of these data by sex resulted in significant within-pair concordance of behavior for same-sex but not for opposite-sex twins. The actual ratings on these behaviors differentiated between full term and preterm infants. Increased behavioral deviance was observed with increasing prematurity in the areas of soothability and activity level. The results are discussed in terms of increased risk factors for preterm twins.
Twins, more than any other home reared infants, experience intimate and usually continuous interaction with an age-mate from early infancy. The effects of this situation are examined and its implications for both the emotional and cognitive development are discussed in the light of evidence from two studies in which play sessions were video-recorded and subsequently analysed into behavioural categories. The first was a longitudinal study of a single pair of twins, while the second was a short-term study of interaction and cooperation in infants in the 9 to 20 months range. Five pairs of twins, 5 pairs of familiar peers, and the children's mothers were observed playing a structured cooperative game. The hypothesis is advanced that twins enjoy more emotional support but less intellectual stimulation than singletons and it is suggested that social enrichment of the environment of twins could foster social and cognitive development.
Parents of 702 twin pairs, ages 4 through 12, completed a sex-role behavioral preference questionnaire for each cotwin. Data were analyzed to determine the effects of gender, zygosity, and age on behavioral similarities and differences between cotwins. Among same-sex cotwins, male MZ pairs were reported to behave the most similarly. Girl-boy pairs were the most dissimilar. Sex and zygosity contributed significantly to co-twin behavioral differences, with female pairs varying more on sex-typed behaviors than male pairs and DZ pairs varying more than MZ pairs. Age of twins was not a major source of differences within twin pairs.
In the Louisville Twin Study, laboratory observations of twin infants' temperament at 12, 18, and 24 months were linked with parental ratings from temperament questionnaires. Core dimensions of temperament were extracted by factor analysis applied to each set of measures at each age. The laboratory temperament dimension was recurrently represented by emotional tone, social orientation, attentiveness, and reaction to restraint. The questionnaire temperament dimension was recurrently represented by mood, approach/withdrawal and adaptability. The laboratory and questionnaire dimensions were found to be correlated at each age (convergent correlations: 0.38 to 0.52) and to be stable across ages (stability correlations 0.37 to 0.66). The temperament dimensions were used to demonstrate that temperament profiles were more concordant for identical than for fraternal twin pairs. The results demonstrate the genetic influences on (a) the primary dimensions of temperament and (b) the developmental transformations of temperament.
In the La Trobe Twin Study, data are collected on temperament and social development in 3-15 year old twins and singletons from four different sources: questionnaires to parents covering development from birth to the present plus the Bristol Social Adjustment Guide completed by the teacher, Sattler's Behavior and Attitude Checklist completed by the tester, and the Qualitative Score on the Porteus Maze Test. Particular stresses are identified which the parents perceive as distinguishing a multiple from a singleton birth. Whereas they perceive no differences between the first and second-born in birth complications, the second-born is judged less favourably particularly in MZ pairs. The distinction continues in the later assessments by the teacher and tester, where in addition the male twins are seen as being different from other children both in cognition and in temperament. It is proposed that social and cognitive development of twins are interrelated and have two unique components, one related to the greater problems accompanying a multiple birth and the other to comparisons between cotwins.
In a Swedish longitudinal twin study, teacher ratings of school adjustment were collected in grades 3 and 6 for approximately 80 pairs of MZ twins, 100 pairs of DZ like-sex twins, and 70 pairs of opposite-sex twins. These same groups of twins then rated their own school adjustment in grades 4 and 6 as seen by the home, the school, their classmates, and themselves.
A comparison of within-pair similarity for the different types of self-ratings tends to show more consistency and a higher concordance for MZ compared to DZ in grade 6 than in grade 4.
The teacher ratings tend to show a larger and more consistent difference between MZ and DZ than the twins' own ratings.
The results reported have certain implications for heritability estimates based on different types of ratings. Ratings by others thus seem to give the highest intraclass correlations, probably due to a certain halo effect. Self ratings, on the other hand, tend to fluctuate more over time at least for children before and at puberty. Also the construction of items seems to influence the magnitude of the correlations.
Resemblances on five cognitive tests were compared in fifty quartets of school children. Each quartet consisted of a twin pair (MZ or DZ) and a matched singleton pair from the same kibbutz peer group. Similarities of MZs and DZs on test scores essentially replicate those reported previously in other studies. The median correlation for singleton control pairs is 0.29, as compared with that of 0.26 reported in the Texas Adoption Study for unrelated children raised in the same home. In the two spatial tests, control pairs were as similar as the DZ pairs. This suggests a more powerful influence on shared environment in aspects of perceptual performance. A new structural analysis (POSAC) of individual profiles of test scores is presented. Comparison of space diagrams of MZ, DZ, and singleton pair profiles shows systematic differences in structure among the three groups, in accordance with the predicted levels of genetic influences. Such structural differences transcend mere differences in size of correlation, and may give more stringent evidence for the respective roles of genetics and environment.
Evidence for and against the validity of the assumption of equal environments for MZ and DZ twins is reviewed, and the consequences of possible violations of the assumption are considered. Further methods of testing the validity of the assumption, as well as possible means of correcting in part for violations, are suggested.
In 1975 the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) conducted a nationwide survey of literacy and numeracy in 10- to 14-year olds. A total of 297 of the 12875 children involved were twins. By age 14, only 42% of the twin boys achieved adequate standards of literacy compared with 71% of single-born boys. The deficit in twin girls was much less and twins of both sexes were only moderately behind in numeracy. A survey of 9-13-year-old twin boys in the La Trobe Twin Study (LTS) produced similar results with 75% being below average in reading skills and 23% behind by 18 months or more, despite above average IQs. The ACER data are corroborated by teachers' reports obtained in the same survey, which indicate also how few of the twins with problems are receiving remediation and the high incidence of classroom problems in spelling and reading reversals. The pattern of mistakes twins make on specific items in the ACER survey can be explained as resulting either from specific cognitive deficits or from problems in concentration. The same factors influence performance on different tasks, so that literacy and numeracy are much more closely interrelated in twins than in singletons, and also correlate more with a measure of verbal intelligence. Implications for genetic analysis of scholastic achievement are examined, centering around the different factor structure of abilities in twins and common family environmental effects which are unique to twins.
Applying newly devised model, heritability (VA/VP) of plasma uric acid level, corrected for age and sex and standardized, was estimated at 0.8 in families consisting of twin parents, spouses and children. Correlation between spouses due to common genotype (ρ) was approximately 0.1, and variance due to common familial environment (VEC/Vp) was -0.3. Analysis of families of selected twin children and their parents resulted in two estimates of heritability: approximately 0.7 and 0.3, ρ being 0.34 and 0.04, and VEC/Vp being 0.04 and 0.34, respectively. Regression of IQ (y) on corrected and standardized plasma uric acid level (x) in the twin children was y = 5.56x + 123, correlation being 0.334 (p < 0.025). The result indicates a genetic basis of blood uric acid level, which may have resulted from polymorphisms in purine metabolism pathway, end product of which is uric acid in man. The significant correlation between plasma uric acid level and IQ suggests a contribution of partly common gene loci to the two quantitative traits.
A sample of twins separated early in life has been identified in the Swedish Twin Registry. When the registry was compiled in 1961 (old cohort) and 1973 (young cohort), one or both members of 961 pairs indicated that they were separated by the age of 10. In May 1979, both members of 698 pairs were alive and were sent a questionnaire concerning the circumstances of separation. Items included reasons and timing of separation, biological relatedness of rearing parents, degree of contact after separation (including whether they lived in the same area, attended the same school, or lived together again), rough measures of selective placement, and current frequency of contact. An attempt was then made to categorize the pairs based on degree of separation. A total of 257 pairs met the criteria: rearing parents of one twin biologically unrelated to rearing parents of the cotwin, twins not living together again after separation, and contact after separation a few times a year or less. As much as 50% were separated by their first birthday, and 80% by the age of five. Various data from the twin registry are presented describing the entire sample of early separated twins as compared to a matched sample of twins reared together.
Within the Finnish Twin Cohort of like-sexed adult twin pairs, a subgroup of pairs separated at an early age has been identified. In 165 pairs, both cotwins responded to questionnaires in 1975 and 1979. An environmental dissimilarity score was formed which consists of items on whether the twins had lived after separation in the same community, attended the same school, were on the same grade at school, how often the cotwins met, how often they met common friends and relatives and whether they attended the same clubs etc, or not. To validate the zygosity diagnosis obtained by questionnaire in 1975, those pairs whose zygosity was unknown as well as those with the least contact after separation were contacted for blood sampling (11 bloodgroups). Of 15 pairs with no zygosity diagnosis, 10 responded (1 no address,2 abroad,2 refused). Six pairs were classified MZ and 4 DZ. In 12 MZ and 8 DZ pairs undergoing bloodgroup determination, the classification of only one pair changed from DZ to MZ. The following intraclass correlations for height and weight were found:
This study is based on data from 165 adult twin pairs separated at 10 years or less. Information on personality factors: extraversion (E) and neuroticism (N) (EPI scale short from), life satisfaction (LS) (Allardt) and stress of daily activities (SDA) was obtained as part of the questionnaire study carried out in the entire Finnish Twin Cohort in 1975. Later in 1979 a questionnaire sent to the twins reared apart yielded a scale (range 7-30 points) measuring the environmental dissimilarities after separation (reliability 0.83). The effect of separation on personality factors by analysis of variance of individual data was studied. Sex, zygosity and age-at-separation were included in the models. The overall expalanatory rates were low (2.1-4.4%). The definitive study group was formed by selecting those pairs with a dissimilarity score greater than 15. The following intraclass correlations were obtained:
Three questionnaires measuring altruistic tendencies were completed by 573 adult twin pairs from the University of London Institute of Psychiatry Volunteer Twin Register. The questionnaires consisted of a 20-item Self-Report Altruism Scale, a 33-item Empathy Scale, and a 16-item Nurturance Scale, all of which had previously been shown to have construct validity. For the three scales, the intra-class correlations for the 296 MZ pairs were 0.53, 0.54, and 0.49, and for the 179 same-sex DZ pairs were 0.25,020, and 0.14, giving rough estimates of broad heritability of 56%, 68%, and 72%, respectively. Maximum-likelihood model-fitting revealed about 50% of the variance on each scale to be associated with genetic effects, virtually 0% to be due to the twins' common environment, and the remaining 50% to be due to each twins' specific environment and/or error associated with the test.
A simple path model applicable to twins and their parents and involving both cultural and genetic transmission in the presence of phenotypic assortative mating was extended to cover the bivariate case. The model allows for cross assortative mating as well as cross cultural transmission. It was applied to two correlated measures derived from a fear survey questionnaire given to 1000 subjects. In allowing for the impact of more than one variable, the model allows for a much more realistic picture of cultural transmission than provided by the univariate model. The logic of the model and an application are outlined. (The authors are indebted to Professor R.J. Rose for providing the illustrative data.)
Phenotypic variation in human population may contain contributions from a number of different sex-associated genetic influences. These influences include maternal effects, the effects of sex-linked loci, and the effects of sex-limited autosomally linked loci. The families produced by MZ and DZ twins provide statistics which permit the detection and estimation of these effects. In particular, they provide statistics derived from various types of age-matched half-sibs and cousins in addition to those derived from the more usually studied full-sib or parent-offspring relationships. Specific models for genetic maternal effects, sex-linkage and sex-limitation are used to explore the use of extended twin design for the detection of and the discrimination between various sex-associated effects. The sample sizes required to detect maternal effects and sex-linkage were considered for some simple cases and it is concluded that comparison derived from the progeny of twins will often provide better tests for these effects than those derived from parent-offspring comparison.
Seventy-nine pairs of same-sex twins were examined at the age of three years at a municipal clinic and their mothers were interviewed to assess the twins' current and past behaviours. The zygosity was determined after the interview by fingerprints and/or bloodtyping in the majority of cases. The following significant differences in concordance between monozygotic and dizygotic twins were found: 1) fear of strangers during observation at the clinic; 2) marked fear of strangers in the first year of life; 3) whether or not the child was startled by sudden noises during infancy; 4) whether or not the child was able to sleep alone at three years without a parent sitting nearby; 5) susceptibility to motion sickness; 6) nocturnal enuresis; 7) short attention span or restlessness during the test.
Some health related psychosocial correlates of the Eysenck neuroticism scale were examined in a questionnaire study of 1501 monozygotic (MZ) and 3455 dizygotic (DZ) male twin pairs representing the adult male twin population in Finland. In analyses of the individuals, 34% of the variance in neuroticism was associated to: psychological variables (stress of daily activities, life satisfaction, quality of sleep, and extroversion – the explanatory rate of this variable set was 30%), psychotropic drugs (5%), alcohol use (4%), and smoking (2%). Neuroticism was also associated to social, life change, and medical variables. In pairwise analyses, the heritability estimate (h2) was 0.54 for pairs living together and 0.39 for pairs living apart. It seems that heritability estimates are confounded by the closer intrapair relationship between members of MZ than DZ pairs. In pairwise analyses, 23% of the intrapair difference of neuroticism in MZ pairs was associated to intrapair differences in the aforementioned variables. The following explanatory rates were found: psychological variables, 21%; psychotropic drugs, 2%; alcohol use, 2%; and smoking, 1%. Neuroticism of pairs discordant for background variables showed similar intrapair differences as between individuals in the following variables: service vs farming work, use of alcohol, use of antacids, hypertension, heavy physical work, quality of sleep, changes of workplace for negative reasons, smoking, and use of tranquillizers. It appears that in Finland environmental factors explain at least 61% of the variability in neuroticism, and that factors determining neuroticism are also associated to health related behavior such as smoking, use of alcohol and psychotropic drugs.
Hospitalization rates of monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs in Finland were compared for schizophrenia, neuroses, and alcoholism. Record-linkage of hospital records and death certificates for the years 1972-1979 was carried out for persons in the Finnish Twin Cohort (16,649 like-sexed twin pairs). The ratio of the number of observed vs that of expected concordant pairs and the ratio of concordance rates between MZ and DZ pairs were greater among males than females, and greater among young (40 years old or less) than among older pairs. The highest difference was found in schizophrenia and the lowest in neuroses. Pairwise concordance rates for schizophrenia (11.0% for MZ and 1.8% for DZ) seem to indicate great environmental influence (high proportion of discordant pairs) with apparent genetic liability (6.1-fold ratio in concordance between MZ and DZ pairs). In neurotic disorders, the difference of pairwise concordance rates between MZ and DZ pairs (6.8% vs 4.0%) was quite low, not strongly supporting a genetic hypothesis. Of the MZ pairs concordant for psychiatric hospitalization, 47% had lived together for their whole life time; of those discordant, 16% lived together. The corresponding figures for DZ pairs were 18% and 15%. The effect of intrapair relationships in disease-concordant pairs should be taken into account when evaluating the effect of genetic and environmental factors in psychiatric disorders.