It is well established that boys are born heavier and longer than girls, but it remains unclear whether birth size in twins is affected by the sex of their co-twin. We conducted an individual-based pooled analysis of 21 twin cohorts in 15 countries derived from the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), including 67,850 dizygotic twin individuals. Linear regression analyses showed that boys having a co-twin sister were, on average, 31 g (95% CI 18 to 45) heavier and 0.16 cm (95% CI 0.045 to 0.274) longer than those with a co-twin brother. In girls, birth size was not associated (5 g birth weight; 95% CI -8 to -18 and -0.089 cm birth length; 95% CI -0.202 to 0.025) with the sex of the co-twin. Gestational age was slightly shorter in boy-boy pairs than in boy-girl and girl-girl pairs. When birth size was standardized by gestational age, the magnitude of the associations was attenuated in boys, particularly for birth weight. In conclusion, boys with a co-twin sister are heavier and longer at birth than those with a co-twin brother. However, these differences are modest and partly explained by a longer gestation in the presence of a co-twin sister.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was conducted within the CODATwins project (Academy of Finland #266592).The Australian Twin Registry is supported by a Centre of Research Excellence (grant ID 1079102) from the National Health and Medical Research Council administered by the University of Melbourne.The Carolina African American Twin Study of Aging (CAATSA) was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (grant 1RO1-AG13662-01A2) to K. E. Whitfield. The CATSS-Study is supported by the Swedish Research Council through the Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social And Medical Sciences (SIMSAM) framework grant no 340-2013-5867, grants provided by the Stockholm County Council (ALF-projects), the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation and the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association’s Research Foundation. Since its origin the East Flanders Prospective Survey has been partly supported by grants from the Fund of Scientific Research, Flanders and Twins, a non-profit Association for Scientific Research in Multiple Births (Belgium). Data collection and analyses in Finnish twin cohorts have been supported by ENGAGE – European Network for Genetic and Genomic Epidemiology, FP7-HEALTH-F4-2007, grant agreement number 201413, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grants AA-12502, AA-00145, and AA-09203 to R J Rose, the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Complex Disease Genetics (grant numbers: 213506, 129680), and the Academy of Finland (grants 100499, 205585, 118555, 141054, 265240, 263278 and 264146 to J Kaprio). Gemini was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK (C1418/A7974). Anthropometric measurements of the Hungarian twins were supported by Medexpert Ltd., Budapest, Hungary. Longitudinal Israeli Study of Twins was funded by the Starting Grant no. 240994 from the European Research Council (ERC) to Ariel Knafo. The Michigan State University Twin Registry has been supported by Michigan State University, as well as grants R01-MH081813, R01-MH0820-54, R01-MH092377-02, R21-MH070542-01, R03-MH63851-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), R01-HD066040 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and 11-SPG-2518 from the MSU Foundation. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIMH, the NICHD, or the National Institutes of Health. PETS was supported by grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (grant numbers 437015 and 607358 to JC, and RS), the Bonnie Babes Foundation (grant number BBF20704 to JMC), the Financial Markets Foundation for Children (grant no. 032-2007 to JMC), and by the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. The Quebec Newborn Twin Study acknowledges financial support from the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Health Research Development Program, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Sainte-Justine Hospital’s Research Center, and the Canada Research Chair Program (Michel Boivin). The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) is supported by a program grant (G0901245) from the UK Medical Research Council and the work on obesity in TEDS is supported in part by a grant from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (31/D19086). Currently TEDS is supported by MRC grant ‘MR/M021475/1’. The West Japan Twins and Higher Order Multiple Births Registry was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (grant number 15H05105) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Netherlands Twin Register acknowledges the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and MagW/ZonMW grants 904-61-090, 985-10-002, 912-10-020, 904-61-193,480-04-004, 463-06-001, 451-04-034, 400-05-717, Addiction-31160008, Middelgroot-911-09-032, Spinozapremie 56-464-14192; VU University’s Institute for Health and Care Research (EMGO+); the European Research Council (ERC − 230374), the Avera Institute, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (USA).