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Parents’ alcohol use is associated with alcohol use of their adolescent offspring, but does this association extend to the adulthood of the offspring? We examined associations of paternal and maternal problem drinking with lifetime problem drinking of their adult offspring prospectively assessed in a population-based Finnish twin-family cohort (FinnTwin16). Problem drinking (Malmö-modified Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test) was self-reported separately by mothers and fathers when their children were 16. The children reported on an extended lifetime version of the same measure during their mid-twenties (21-28 years) and mid-thirties (31-37 years). 1235 sons and 1461 daughters in mid-twenties and 991 sons and 1278 daughters in mid-thirties had complete data. Correlations between fathers’ and their adult children’s problem drinking ranged from .12 to .18. For mothers and their adult children, these correlations ranged from .09 to .14. In multivariate models, adjustment for potential confounders had little effect on the observed associations. In this study, parental problem drinking was modestly associated with lifetime problem drinking of their adult children. This association could be detected even when the children had reached the fourth decade of life.
Co-twin comparisons address familial confounding by controlling for genetic and environmental influences that twin siblings share. We applied the co-twin comparison design to investigate associations of adolescent factors with alcohol dependence (AD) symptoms. Participants were 1286 individuals (581 complete twin pairs; 42% monozygotic; and 54% female) from the FinnTwin12 study. Predictors included adolescent academic achievement, substance use, externalizing problems, internalizing problems, executive functioning, peer environment, physical health, relationship with parents, alcohol expectancies, life events, and pubertal development. The outcome was lifetime AD clinical criterion count, as measured in young adulthood. We examined associations of each adolescent domain with AD symptoms in individual-level and co-twin comparison analyses. In individual-level analyses, adolescents with higher levels of substance use, teacher-reported externalizing problems at age 12, externalizing problems at age 14, self- and co-twin-reported internalizing problems, peer deviance, and perceived difficulty of life events reported more symptoms of AD in young adulthood (ps < .044). Conversely, individuals with higher academic achievement, social adjustment, self-rated health, and parent–child relationship quality met fewer AD clinical criteria (ps < .024). Associations between adolescent substance use, teacher-reported externalizing problems, co-twin-reported internalizing problems, peer deviance, self-rated health, and AD symptoms were of a similar magnitude in co-twin comparisons. We replicated many well-known adolescent correlates of later alcohol problems, including academic achievement, substance use, externalizing and internalizing problems, self-rated health, and features of the peer environment and parent–child relationship. Furthermore, we demonstrate the utility of co-twin comparisons for understanding pathways to AD. Effect sizes corresponding to the associations between adolescent substance use, teacher-reported externalizing problems, co-twin-reported internalizing problems, peer deviance, and self-rated health were not significantly attenuated (p value threshold = .05) after controlling for genetic and environmental influences that twin siblings share, highlighting these factors as candidates for further research.
In mental health research, functional recovery is increasingly valued as an important outcome in addition to symptomatic remission.
Course types of functional limitations among depressed older patients and its relation with symptomatic remission were explored in a naturalistic cohort study (Netherlands Study of Depression in Older persons). 378 depressed older patients (≥60 years) and 132 non-depressed persons were included. Depressive disorders were assessed with Composite International Diagnostic Interview at baseline and two-year follow-up. Functional limitations were assessed every 6 months with the World Health Organization Disability Assessment II.
Depressed patients had more functional limitations compared to their non-depressed counterparts. Growth Mixture Modeling among depressed patients identified two trajectories of functional limitations, both starting at a high disability level. The largest subgroup (81.2%) was characterized by a course of high disability levels over time. The smaller subgroup (18.8%) had an improving course (functional recovery). After two years, the main predictor of functional recovery was the remission of depression. Among symptomatic remitted patients, female sex, higher level of education, higher gait speed, and less severe depression were associated with no functional recovery. Non-remitted patients without functional recovery were characterized by the presence of more chronic somatic diseases, a lower sense of mastery, and a higher level of anxiety.
1 in 5 depressed older patients have a course with functional recovery. Combining functional and symptomatic recovery points to a subgroup of older patients that might profit from more rigorous psychiatric treatment targeted at psychiatric comorbidity and a group of frail depressed older patients that might profit from integrated geriatric rehabilitation.
The purpose of this review is to provide a detailed and updated description of the FinnTwin16 (FT16) study and its future directions. The Finnish Twin Cohort comprises three different cohorts: the Older Twin Cohort established in the 1970s and the FinnTwin12 and FT16 initiated in the 1990s. FT16 was initiated in 1991 to identify the genetic and environmental precursors of alcoholism, but later the scope of the project expanded to studying the determinants of various health-related behaviors and diseases in different stages of life. The main areas addressed are alcohol use and its consequences, smoking, physical activity, overall physical health, eating behaviors and eating disorders, weight development, obesity, life satisfaction and personality. To date, five waves of data collection have been completed and the sixth is now planned. Data from the FT16 cohort have contributed to several hundred studies and many substudies, with more detailed phenotyping and collection of omics data completed or underway. FT16 has also contributed to many national and international collaborations.
This review offers an update on research conducted with FinnTwin12 (FT12), the youngest of the three Finnish Twin Cohorts. FT12 was designed as a two-stage study. In the first stage, we conducted multiwave questionnaire research enrolling all eligible twins born in Finland during 1983–1987 along with their biological parents. In stage 2, we intensively studied a subset of these twins with in-school assessments at age 12 and semistructured poly-diagnostic interviews at age 14. At baseline, parents of intensively studied twins were administered the adult version of the interview. Laboratory studies with repeat interviews, neuropsychological tests, and collection of DNA were made of intensively studied twins during follow-up in early adulthood. The basic aim of the FT12 study design was to obtain information on individual, familial and school/neighborhood risks for substance use/abuse prior to the onset of regular tobacco and alcohol use and then track trajectories of use and abuse and their consequences into adulthood. But the longitudinal assessments were not narrowly limited to this basic aim, and with multiwave, multirater assessments from ages 11 to 12, the study has created a richly informative data set for analyses of gene–environment interactions of both candidate genes and genomewide measures with measured risk-relevant environments. Because 25 years have elapsed since the start of the study, we are planning a fifth-wave follow-up assessment.
The older Finnish Twin Cohort (FTC) was established in 1974. The baseline survey was in 1975, with two follow-up health surveys in 1981 and 1990. The fourth wave of assessments was done in three parts, with a questionnaire study of twins born during 1945–1957 in 2011–2012, while older twins were interviewed and screened for dementia in two time periods, between 1999 and 2007 for twins born before 1938 and between 2013 and 2017 for twins born in 1938–1944. The content of these wave 4 assessments is described and some initial results are described. In addition, we have invited twin-pairs, based on response to the cohortwide surveys, to participate in detailed in-person studies; these are described briefly together with key results. We also review other projects based on the older FTC and provide information on the biobanking of biosamples and related phenotypes.
The aim of this study was to examine the effects of genetic and environment influences and sex on injury involvement using two sets of Finnish twin data. The younger participants were 955 twins born between 1983 and 1987, aged 20 to 24 years. The older participants were 12,428 twins born between 1930 and 1957, aged 33 to 60 years. Within-twin correlations in monozygotic and dizygotic twins suggested that genetic effects play no role in injury involvement among young twins, but do have some effect at older ages. The results indicated that environmental factors have greater importance in injury involvement than genetic factors in the younger twin data set (FT12), whereas in a middle-aged (33–60 years) twin data set, genetic effects explained about quarter of the variance in injury involvement. Sex was a strong contributing factor, with males being generally more prone to injuries than females.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy (MSDP) has been linked to offspring's externalizing problems. It has been argued that socio-demographic factors (e.g. maternal age and education), co-occurring environmental risk factors, or pleiotropic genetic effects may account for the association between MSDP and later outcomes. This study provides a comprehensive investigation of the association between MSDP and a single harmonized component of externalizing: aggressive behaviour, measured throughout childhood and adolescence.
Data came from four prospective twin cohorts – Twins Early Development Study, Netherlands Twin Register, Childhood and Adolescent Twin Study of Sweden, and FinnTwin12 study – who collaborate in the EU-ACTION consortium. Data from 30 708 unrelated individuals were analysed. Based on item level data, a harmonized measure of aggression was created at ages 9–10; 12; 14–15 and 16–18.
MSDP predicted aggression in childhood and adolescence. A meta-analysis across the four samples found the independent effect of MSDP to be 0.4% (r = 0.066), this remained consistent when analyses were performed separately by sex. All other perinatal factors combined explained 1.1% of the variance in aggression across all ages and samples (r = 0.112). Paternal smoking and aggressive parenting strategies did not account for the MSDP-aggression association, consistent with the hypothesis of a small direct link between MSDP and aggression.
Perinatal factors, including MSDP, account for a small portion of the variance in aggression in childhood and adolescence. Later experiences may play a greater role in shaping adolescents’ aggressive behaviour.
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.
Early maturation, indexed by pubertal development (PD), has been associated with earlier initiation and greater frequency of adolescent substance use, but this relationship may be biased by confounding factors and effects that change across development. Using a population-based Finnish twin sample (N = 3,632 individuals), we conducted twin modeling and multilevel structural equation modeling of the relationship between PD and substance use at ages 12–22. Shared environmental factors contributed to early PD and heavier substance use for females. Biological father absence was associated with early PD for boys but not girls, and did not account for the relationship between PD and substance use. The association between early PD and heavier substance use was partially due to between-family confounds, although early PD appeared to qualitatively alter long-term trajectories for some substances (nicotine), but not others (alcohol). Mediation by peer and parental factors did not explain this relationship within families. However, higher peer substance use and lower parental monitoring were themselves associated with heavier substance use, strengthening the existing evidence for these factors as targets for prevention/intervention efforts. Early maturation was not supported as a robust determinant of alcohol use trajectories in adolescence and young adulthood, but may require longer term follow-up. Subtle effects of early PD on nicotine and illicit drug use trajectories throughout adolescence and adulthood merit further investigation.
We offer a brief sketch of an overlooked early twin researcher, Arvo Johannes Lehtovaara (1905–1985), Professor of Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, 1939–1952, and the University of Helsinki, 1952–1970, with background notes on his mentor, Eino Kaila.
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.
The purpose of this study was to address two methodological issues that have called into question whether previously reported gene–environment interaction (GxE) effects for adolescent alcohol use are ‘real’. These issues are (1) the potential correlation between the environmental moderator and the outcome across twins and (2) non-linear transformations of the behavioral outcome. Three environments that have been previously studied (peer deviance, parental knowledge, and potentially stressful life events) were examined here. For each moderator (peer deviance, parental knowledge, and potentially stressful life events), a series of models was fit to both a raw and transformed measure of monthly adolescent alcohol use in a sample that included 825 dizygotic (DZ) and 803 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs. The results showed that the moderating effect of peer deviance was robust to transformation, and that although the significance of moderating effects of parental knowledge and potentially stressful life events were dependent on the scale of the adolescent alcohol use outcome, the overall results were consistent across transformation. In addition, the findings did not vary across statistical models. The consistency of the peer deviance results and the shift of the parental knowledge and potentially stressful life events results between trending and significant, shed some light on why previous findings for certain moderators have been inconsistent and emphasize the importance of considering both methodological issues and previous findings when conducting and interpreting GxE analyses.
Pregnancy- and birth-related factors may have an effect on handedness. Compared with singletons, twins have a lower birth weight, shorter gestational age, and are at higher risk for birth complications. We tested whether the prevalence of left-handedness is higher among twins than singletons, and if so, whether that difference is fully explained by pregnancy and birth-related differences between twins and singletons. We analyzed Finnish population-based datasets; included were 8,786 twins and 5,892 singletons with information on birth weight (n = 12,381), Apgar scores (n = 11,129), and gestational age (n = 11,811). Two twin cohorts were involved: FinnTwin12 included twins born during 1983–1987, and FinnTwin16 included twins born during 1974–1979. We had two comparison groups of singletons: 4,101 individuals born during 1986–1988 and enrolled in the Helsinki Ultrasound Trial, and 1,791 individuals who were partners of FinnTwin16 twins. We used logistic regression models with writing hand as the outcome for comparison and evaluating effects of covariates. Left-handedness was more common in twins (9.67%) than in singletons (8.27%; p = .004). However, Apgar scores were associated with handedness, and after controlling for covariates, we found no difference in the prevalence of left-handedness between twins and singletons. Increased left-handedness among twins, often reported by others, was evident in our data, but only among our older twin cohorts, and that association disappeared after removing effects of perinatal covariates.