Chromosomal Aberrations in Monozygotic and Dizygotic Twins Versus Singletons in Denmark During 1968-2009

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BACKGROUND: Hall (Embryologic development and monozygotic twinning. Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae, Vol. 45, 1996, pp. 53-57) hypothesized that chromosomal aberrations can lead to monozygotic (MZ) twinning. However, twinning and chromosomal aberrations increase prenatal mortality and could reduce the prevalence of chromosomal aberrations in live-born twins. We compared prevalence proportion ratios (PPR) of chromosomal aberrations and trisomy 21 (T21) in live-born twins versus singletons born in Denmark during 1968-2009.

METHODS: We linked the Danish Twin Registry and a 5% random sample of all singletons to the Danish Cytogenetic Central Register and calculated PPR adjusted for maternal age for MZ, dizygotic (DZ), and all twins versus singletons. Zygosity was based on questionnaires or genetic markers.

RESULTS: No overall difference in risk of chromosomal aberrations or T21 in twins versus singletons was found. PPR in MZ and DZ twins was 0.87 (95% CI [0.60, 1.27]) and 1.05 (95% CI [0.88, 1.27]), respectively. For T21 there was a tendency to a lower prevalence in MZ twins compared to singletons (PPR: 0.29, 95% CI [0.07, 1.14]), whereas PPR was significantly increased in DZ twins (1.62, 95% CI [1.20, 2.19]). The observed proportion of MZ twin pairs among twin pairs with aberrations (0.22, 95% CI [0.16, 0.28]) was significantly lower than the proportion expected from the Weinberg method (0.32, 95% CI [CI, 0.26, 0.39]).

CONCLUSION: Based on databases providing complete national coverage on twins with chromosomal aberrations, we found no overall difference in risk of chromosomal aberrations or T21 in twins versus singletons. Around conception twins may have an increased risk of chromosomal aberrations, but loss of especially MZ embryos could lead to similar risk among live-born twins and singletons.

JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)216-225
StatePublished - 2017

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  • Journal Article