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It is desirable for twin researchers to be aware of the needs and concerns of families of multiples and provide participants with appropriate and useful feedback and advice based on scientific evidence. Our most recent database on families with twins throughout Japan is based on a questionnaire survey conducted in 2016. Mailed questionnaires, consisting of over 500 items, were used to collect the basic data. The response rate was 38% (566/1478). This is part of a nationwide study designed to assess the long-term effect of perinatal conditions on mothers of multiples. Its aim was to study the growth and development of multiples in childhood, and for the creation of a multifetal mother and child health handbook, and to conduct a genetic epidemiologic study to test the developmental origin of health and disease hypothesis. One of the ultimate aims of this research was to provide evidence-based information on parenting of multiples for families with multiples.
This article profiles the historical twin databases of the secondary education school attached to the Faculty of Education at the University of Tokyo. The school was established in 1948. Every year, about 50 pairs of twins of all sex and zygosity combinations, aged 11–12 years, take an examination, and about 10–20 pairs are admitted based on the results. Three datasets exist: one for applicants (11–12 years old), one for junior and senior high school students (12–18 years old) and one for graduates (18–85 years old). Linking the records from these three databases should facilitate several important research projects, for example, life course genetic epidemiologic studies and the verification of the so-called developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis.
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.
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 purpose of the present study was to clarify the characteristics of fatal child maltreatment in families with multiple births in Japan. An exhaustive information search was performed to find multiple-birth cases between July 2003 and March 2011. There were 437 cases of fatal maltreatment of children aged 0–17 years during this period, including 14 involving multiple-birth children. A keyword search was performed to create a full profile for each multiple-birth case. The 14 multiple-birth victims were twins from 13 families. No significant difference between twins and singletons with fatal maltreatment was observed for most characteristics. However, in the case of twins, 0-month victims were rare, and the number of children per family was larger. One twin died from shaken baby syndrome. The victim's siblings were also maltreated in six out of 12 relevant cases, including all six co-twins. Premature birth, having a disabled co-twin, delay of growth or development, and parental disfavor tended to be factors of maltreatment when only one twin was maltreated. Four families were given suspended sentences in total, including three mothers who acted as solitary murderers (43% = 3/7). In conclusion, recent Japanese nationwide data suggests that the non-specific overburden of child rearing might be one possible reason for higher frequency of child maltreatment for multiples compared with singletons, and parental comparisons between two twins might be another. The penal sentences for fatal child maltreatment might be more lenient for perpetrators of this crime against twins than against singletons.
The Keio Twin Research Center has conducted two longitudinal twin cohort projects and has collected three independent and anonymous twin data sets for studies of phenotypes related to psychological, socio-economic, and mental health factors. The Keio Twin Study has examined adolescent and adult cohorts, with a total of over 2,400 pairs of twins and their parents. DNA samples are available for approximately 600 of these twin pairs. The Tokyo Twin Cohort Project has followed a total of 1,600 twin pairs from infancy to early childhood. The large-scale cross-sectional twin study (CROSS) has collected data from over 4,000 twin pairs, from 3 to 26 years of age, and from two high school twin cohorts containing a total of 1,000 pairs of twins. These data sets of anonymous twin studies have mainly targeted academic performance, attitude, and social environment. The present article introduces the research designs and major findings of our center, such as genetic structures of cognitive abilities, personality traits, and academic performances, developmental effects of genes and environment on attitude, socio-cognitive ability and parenting, genes x environment interaction on attitude and conduct problem, and statistical methodological challenges and so on. We discuss the challenges in conducting twin research in Japan.
This article profiles the historical twin databases of the secondary education school attached to the Faculty of Education at the University of Tokyo. The school was established in 1948. Every year, about 50 pairs of twins of all sex and zygosity combinations and aged 11–12 years take an examination, and about 10–20 pairs are admitted based on the results. Three data sets exist: one for applicants (11–12 years), one for junior and senior high school students (12–18 years), and one for graduates (18–79 years). Record linkage of these three databases should facilitate several important research projects; for example, the lifecourse genetic epidemiologic studies and verification of so-called developmental origin of health and disease hypothesis.
To gain widespread participation, epidemiologic studies of twins from pregnancy through the childhood period are expected to reflect the needs and concerns of families and provide participants with appropriate and useful feedback based on scientific evidence. Our most recent database on families with twins throughout Japan is based on a questionnaire survey conducted from January 2010 to August 2011. Mailed or hand-delivered questionnaires, consisting of over 550 items were used to collect the basic data. The response rate was 40% (956/2,401). This is part of a nation-wide study designed to assess the long-term effect of perinatal conditions on mothers of multiples. Its aim was to study the growth and development of multiples in childhood, and to conduct a genetic epidemiologic study to test the developmental origin of health and disease hypothesis. One of the ultimate aims of this research was to provide evidence-based information on parenting multiples from pregnancy through childhood to families with multiples.
The purpose of this study is to compare obstetric and birthweight data of twin children from the two largest databases in Japan to estimate the difference between them in sample collection. The first group consisted of 1131 twin-pair school applicants, and the second group consisted of members' children from several maternal associations devoted to twins and included 951 pairs. All data were gathered by questionnaire. The mean birth years of the twins in these two databases were 1979 and 1995 respectively. The percentage of mothers treated with ovulation-stimulating drugs or in-vitro fertilization was markedly higher in the maternal associations group. Gestational age was around 1 week less in the maternal associations group, whereas birthweight according to gestational weeks and intrapair relative birth weight difference as a percentage according to zygosity showed little difference between both groups. We conclude that the obstetric and birthweight feature data from both groups should be considered to construct twin growth charts based on the methods of sample selection.
The aims of this study were to identify factors associated with birthweight, birth length and head circumference for triplets, and analyze these body size parameters at birth, especially head circumference, according to gestational age. The subjects of this study were 370 mothers and their 1109 triplet children (excluding one stillborn infant) who were born between 1978 and 2002. The gestational age proved to be the strongest contributing factor to birthweight, birth length and head circumference of the triplets. Moreover, sex was a significant factor affecting birthweight, birth length and head circumference. Male neonates had a higher birthweight, longer birth length and greater head circumference than female neonates. Birth order in triplets also had a significant effect on birthweight and head circumference. Lower birth- order neonates had a higher birthweight and greater head circumference. An effect of maternal pregravid body mass index (BMI) on both birth- weight and birth length was observed. The birthweights of triplets born to women whose pregravid BMIs were more than 26.0 kg/m2 weighed an average of 150 g more than those of triplets born to women whose pregravid BMIs were less than 19.8 kg/m2, and the birth length of triplets born to women whose pregravid BMIs were more than 26.0 kg/m2 averaged 1.5 cm longer than those of triplets born to women whose pregravid BMIs were less than 19.8 kg/m2. Concerning head circumference, the median head circumference of male neonates was approximately 0.5 cm longer than female neonates. Compared to singleton neonates, the median head circumference of triplets was almost the same.
The effect of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and non-ART ovulation stimulation fertility treatment on the number and rate of multiple live births from 1979–2008 in Japan was estimated using two independent data sources, ART statistics and vital statistics. Japanese ART statistics presented by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology between 1989 and 2008 were gathered and reanalyzed. The number and rates of ART between 1984 and 1988 were interpolated using an approximation formula, using the values from 1983, when the first ART baby was born in Japan, and the 1989–1992 values. The number of ART multiples between 1979–1982 was set as equal to zero. The minimum (or maximum) number of non-ART iatrogenic multiple births was estimated by subtracting the maximum (or minimum) ART multiples from the total iatrogenic multiples, which was estimated by vital statistics assuming that spontaneous multiple-birth rates according to maternal age class would be constant. There was an overall increase in the non-ART multiple births during the 30-year period, whereas ART multiples tended to increase from 1983 to 2005, and then rapidly decreased thereafter. The number or percentage of ART multiples was almost consistently lower than that of non-ART multiples. The percentage of non-ART multiples (33%) among the total multiples was estimated to be about three times more than the ART multiples (11–12%) in 2008. Given the medical and social impact of multiple births, it is imperative to construct a hospital-based monitoring system for fertility treatments, specially non-ART fertility treatments and multiple births.
This paper profiles a unique cohort of adult Japanese twins. The database contains more than 700 twin pairs, aged 18 to 66 years, who are all graduates of the secondary school attached to the faculty of education of the University of Tokyo. This school was established in 1948, when the study of twins was burgeoning in Japan, and about 10 to 20 pairs of twins have been admitted there every year to participate in studies on twins in education and in related projects. The zygosity of all twins was determined carefully on the basis of various sources. Data from the perinatal period to adulthood were linkable using ID numbers. Follow-up surveys in the field of medical genetics were performed in 1985, 1989 and 1999. For the third survey, which was sent and received exclusively by mail, the distribution and collection process was also assessed in detail. The response rate was around 40%, which statistically was influenced mainly by previous participation and sex. The limitation of this cohort is its selection bias concerning socioeconomic status and its imbalance in favor of monozygotic pairs.
Birthweight has implications for physical and mental health in later life. Using data from Caucasian twins collected in Australia, the Netherlands and the United States, and from East Asian twins collected in Japan and South Korea, we compared the total phenotypic, genetic and environmental variances of birthweight between Caucasians and East Asians. Model-fitting analyses yielded four major findings. First, for both males and females, the total phenotypic variances of birthweight were about 45% larger in Caucasians than in East Asians. The larger phenotypic variances were mainly attributable to a greater shared environmental variance of birth- weight in Caucasians (ranging from 62% to 67% of variance) than Asians (48% to 53%). Second, the genetic variance of birthweight was equal in Caucasians and East Asians for both males and females, explaining a maximum of 17% of variance. Third, small variations in total phenotypic variances of birthweight within Caucasians and within East Asians were mainly due to differences in nonshared environmental variances. We speculate that maternal effects (both genetic and environmental) explain the large shared environmental variance in birthweight and may account for the differences in phenotypic variance in birthweight between Caucasians and East Asians. Recent molecular findings and specific environmental factors that are subsumed by maternal effects are discussed.
Though twinning rates have been rapidly increasing in Japan, the problem of zygosity misclassification at birth has been paid little attention. By analyzing four independent samples, the authors found that at a constant rate about 25–30% of monozygotic twins were misclassified as dizygotic twins at birth. This percentage is in very good accordance with that of monozygotic twins having dizygous placenta. Generally the obstetricians informed twins' parents about their children's zygosity. The number of placentas, as informed by obstetricians, was very strongly associated with zygosity. Concluding, even now many monozygotic twins in Japan may be misclassified as dizygotic at birth by obstetricians based solely on the number of placenta.
The present study deals with the determination of zygosity in twins of childhood age by simple questionnaire. The subjects were 224 twin pairs and their mothers, consisting of 159 monozygotic and 65 same-sex dizygotic pairs, identified by genetic markers including DNA samples. Mothers of twins responded to 19 questionnaire items dealing with twin similarity in 16 items about physical features and 3 items about the degree of similarity and frequency of being mistaken (confusion of identity) when twins were about 1 year of age. The twins themselves responded to three questionnaire items dealing with only confusion of identity items. The results of stepwise logistic regression analysis were as follows: the total accuracy of the mothers' questionnaire was 91.5% when using only the items dealing with confusion of identity. This accuracy was slightly lower than that obtained by twins' self-reports dealing with nearly the same question items of confusion of identity, answered by both twins separately with 93.3% accuracy. The total accuracy of mothers' questionnaire responses rose to 95.1% when we used all 19 items. In addition to ‘the frequency of being mistaken‘, two physical features, namely ‘shape of fingers’ and ‘shape of eyebrow’, were very informative. In conclusion, twin zygosity can be estimated by the use of the mothers' simple questionnaire with sufficient accuracy even in very young twins about 1 year of age.
The purpose of this study was to clarify the genetic contribution to stuttering and tics in childhood using the largest databases of Japanese twins. The subjects were 1896 pairs of twin children consisting of 1849 males and 1943 females with a mean age of 11.6 years (3 years to 15 years). All data were gathered by questionnaire. The prevalence of stuttering was 6.7% in males and 3.6% in females (p < .0001). The prevalence of tics was 6.8% in males and 4.1% in females (p = .0021). Concordance rates and polychoric correlations were all higher in monozygotic pairs than in dizygotic pairs irrespective of sex combination. Structural equation modeling showed that the proportion of total phenotypic variance attributable to genetic influences was 80% in males and 85% in females for stuttering, and 28% in males and 29% in females for tics. Moreover, co-occurrence between stuttering and tics was observed in 0.8% of males (tetrachoric correlation: r = .18) and 0.5% of females (r = .31), which was attributed partly (nearly 10% of total genetic variance of each trait) to the common genetic factors, with genetic correlation of r = .32.
The purpose of this study was to examine the genetic contribution to handedness and footedness in childhood using one of the largest available databases of Japanese twins. The participants were 1131 twin pairs, 1057 males and 1205 females, of 11 or 12 years of age (6th grade of secondary school in the Japanese education system). All data were gathered by questionnaire. The prevalence of left (nonright) handedness was 15% in males and 13% in females. The prevalence of left (nonright) footedness was 13% in males and 11% in females. The similarities between twin pairs, estimated by concordance rates and tetrachoric correlations, suggested a slight genetic effect on male handedness, no genetic effect on female handedness, and no genetic effect on footedness in either sex. Structural equation modeling showed small genetic factors (11%) in male handedness and no genetic factors in female handedness. As to footedness, no genetic factors were observed in either sex. The effects of nonshared environmental factors were large (85%) in males and moderate (44%) in females. Moreover, handedness and footedness tended to be concordant irrespective of sex, with polychoric correlations over r = .70. The results of bivariate genetic analyses were not necessarily satisfactory. For males, no model fit. For females, shared and nonshared environmental factors explained the concordance of handedness and footedness. It was concluded that the genetic effects on handedness and footedness are relatively small, as is their association; moreover, considerably large twin samples are needed to obtain stable and appropriate results.
This article profiles the historical twin databases of the secondary education school attached to the Faculty of Education at the University of Tokyo. The school was established in 1948. Every year, about 50 pairs of twins of all sex and zygosity combinations and aged 11 to 12 years take an examination, and about 10 to 20 pairs are admitted based on the results. Three independent datasets exist: one for applicants (11–12 years), one for students (12–18 years), and one for graduates (18–72 years). These three historical databases and research perspectives are introduced herein.
A new type of population-based database of multiples in childhood at the prefecture level was initiated in 2004 in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. We conducted an exhaustive search for demographic information concerning families with multiples, family support provided by governmental and medical institutions by mailed questionnaire, and at the same time tried to organize a human network to support such families. This registry aims not only to aid research on human genetics and maternal and child health, but also to contribute to the development of welfare programs for families with multiples.