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Twins born following fertility treatment: implications for quantitative genetic studies

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 21:45 authored by Adam Goody, Frances Rice, Jackie Boivin, Gordon Harold, Dale F Hay, Anita Thapar
The rate of multiple births is substantially elevated in women who have had assisted reproduction treatment (ART; ~26%) compared to the general population (~1%), and these offspring are usually included in twin studies. Several studies have attempted to identify possible consequences of undergoing ART on the subsequent offspring. However, most studies have only included singleton births. We first examined whether twins born by ART differed from other twins on measures of childhood psychopathology, putative risk factors and correlates, and secondly tested for differences in the degree of twin similarity for available outcome measures. From a population-based twin sample, 101 families with dizygotic (DZ) twins conceived via ART were identified and compared with 1073 naturally conceived (NC) control DZ twin pairs. Analyses performed were (1) univariate and multivariate comparisons of between-group mean differences; and (2) comparison of twin 1-twin 2 correlations between the groups. The groups differed significantly on demographic factors (parental age, family size and social class) and pregnancy variables (smoking during pregnancy and birthweight) but did not differ on family conflict scores or in the frequency of obstetric complications. Family cohesion was higher in the ART group but this was accounted for by demographic factors. For child psychopathology there was a difference between the groups only for teacher-rated ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Differences were also found between groups for twin correlations. The differences found between ART and NC twins on group means and twin correlations suggest that researchers should be aware that including ART twins may influence results from twin studies.


Publication status

  • Published


Twin Research and Human Genetics




Cambridge University Press





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  • Psychology Publications

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  • Yes

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