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Effect of co-twin gender on neurodevelopmental symptoms: a twin register study
Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health (CELAM), University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Örebro University, School of Medicine, Örebro University, Sweden. Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3587-6075
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2016 (English)In: Molecular Autism, ISSN 2040-2392, Vol. 7, article id 8Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Resource type
Text
Abstract [en]

Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are neurodevelopmental disorders thought to have both genetic and environmental causes. It has been hypothesized that exposure to elevated levels of prenatal testosterone is associated with elevated traits of ASD and ADHD. Assuming that testosterone levels from a dizygotic male twin fetus may lead to enhanced testosterone exposure of its co-twins, we aimed to test the prenatal testosterone hypothesis by comparing same-sex with opposite-sex dizygotic twins with respect to neurodevelopmental symptoms.

Methods: Neuropsychiatric traits were assessed in a population-based twin cohort from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS). Parental interviews were conducted for 16,312 dizygotic twins, 9 and 12 years old, with the Autism-Tics, ADHD, and other Comorbidities inventory (A-TAC).

Results: Girls with a female co-twin had an increased risk of reaching the cut-off score for ADHD compared with girls with a male co-twin. Both boys and girls with a female co-twin displayed a larger number of traits related to attention deficit and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors than those with a male twin. In girls, this also extended to social interaction and the combined measures for ASD and ADHD, however, with small effect sizes.

Conclusions: Our results are reverse to what would have been expected from the prenatal testosterone hypothesis but consistent with a previous study of ASD and ADHD traits in dizygotic twins. The seemingly protective effect for girls of having a twin brother may be an effect of parent report bias, but may also be an unexpected effect of sharing the intrauterine environment with a male co-twin.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central, 2016. Vol. 7, article id 8
Keywords [en]
Twin study, Autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders, Symptom assessment
National Category
Neurology
Research subject
Neurology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-47978DOI: 10.1186/s13229-016-0074-zISI: 000368243600004PubMedID: 26793297Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84955237872OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-47978DiVA, id: diva2:900917
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 523-2011-3646The Swedish Brain Foundation
Note

Funding Agencies:

Bertil Hallsten's Foundation

Söderström's foundation

Swedish Council for Working Life

Söderström-Königska Foundation 

Swedish Research Council (Medicine and SIMSAM)

Available from: 2016-02-05 Created: 2016-02-05 Last updated: 2018-07-10Bibliographically approved

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Bejerot, Susanne

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