Genetic factors explain a major proportion of human height variation, but differences in mean stature have also been found between socio-economic categories suggesting a possible effect of environment. By utilizing a classical twin design which allows decomposing the variation of height into genetic and environmental components, we tested the hypothesis that environmental variation in height is greater in offspring of lower educated parents. Twin data from 29 cohorts including 65,978 complete twin pairs with information on height at ages 1 to 69 years and on parental education were pooled allowing the analyses at different ages and in three geographic-cultural regions (Europe, North America and Australia, and East Asia). Parental education mostly showed a positive association with offspring height, with significant associations in mid-childhood and from adolescence onwards. In variance decomposition modeling, the genetic and environmental variance components of height did not show a consistent relation to parental education. A random-effects meta-regression analysis of the aggregate-level data showed a trend towards greater shared environmental variation of height in low parental education families. In conclusion, in our very large dataset from twin cohorts around the globe, these results provide only weak evidence for the study hypothesis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was conducted within the CODATwins project (Academy of Finland #266592). 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. The Swedish Twin Registry is managed by Karolinska Institutet and receives funding through the Swedish Research Council under the grant no 2017-00641. 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; Amsterdam Public Health (APH); the European Research Council (ERC - 230374), the Avera Institute, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (USA) and the KNAW Academy Professor Award (PAH/6635) to DIB. 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, 308248, 312073 and 264146 to J Kaprio). 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). Gemini was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK (C1418/A7974). Data collection and research stemming from the Norwegian Twin Registry is supported, in part, from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programmes ENGAGE Consortium (grant agreement HEALTH-F4-2007-201413, and BioSHaRE EU (grant agreement HEALTH-F4-2010-261433). Madeira data comes from the following project: Genetic and environmental influences on physical activity, fitness and health: the Madeira family study Project reference: POCI/DES/56834/2004 Founded by the Portuguese agency for research (The Foundation for Science and Technology [FCT]). S.Y. Öncel and F. Aliev are supported by Kırıkkale University Research Grant: KKU, 2009/43 and TUBITAK grant 114C117. K Silventoinen is supported by Osaka University’s International Joint Research Promotion Program. The Boston University Twin Project is funded by grants (#R01 HD068435 #R01 MH062375) from the National Institutes of Health to K. Saudino. California Twin Program was supported by The California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (7RT-0134H, 8RT-0107H, 6RT-0354H) and the National Institutes of Health (1R01ESO15150-01). 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. Colorado Twin Registry is funded byNIDA funded center grant DA011015, & Longitudinal Twin Study HD10333; Author Huibregtse is supported by 5T32DA017637 and 5T32AG052371. 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. The University of Southern California Twin Study is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH58354). The Texas Twin Project is currently funded by grants AA023322 and HD081437 from the National Institutes of Health. Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging was supported by National Institute of Health grants NIA R01 AG018384, R01 AG018386, R01 AG022381, and R01 AG022982, and, in part, with resources of the VA San Diego Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health. The Cooperative Studies Program of the Office of Research & Development of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has provided financial support for the development and maintenance of the Vietnam Era Twin (VET) Registry. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIA/NIH, or the VA. The NAS-NRC Twin Registry acknowledges financial support from the National Institutes of Health grant number R21 AG039572. Korean Twin-Family Register was supported by the Global Research Network Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF 2011-220-E00006). South Korea Twin Registry is supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-371-2011-1 B00047). 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. This research was facilitated through access to Twins Research Australia, a national resource supported by a Centre of Research Excellence Grant (ID: 1079102), from the National Health and Medical Research Council. Longitudinal Israeli Study of Twins was funded by the Starting Grant no. 240994 from the European Research Council (ERC) to Ariel Knafo.
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