The Colorado Twin Registry is a population based registry initiated in 1984 with the involvement of the Colorado Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics. Recruitment includes birth cohorts several years prior to 1984 and all subsequent years. As part of a recent evaluation of Colorado birth records for the years 2006 through 2008 we became aware of a shifting trend in the proportion of MZ and DZ twins in the Colorado population. Historically (Bulmer 1970 The biology of twinning in man, Clarendon, Oxford) we have expected a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 ratio of MZ, same-sex DZ and opposite sex DZ twins in Caucasian populations. An excess of MZ pairs in most studies was assumed to be due to selection bias. Somewhat more recently, Hur et al.(1995 Behav Genet 25, 337–340) provided evidence that the DZ twinning rate was falling and that therefore selection bias was not the reason for higher MZ enrollment in most twin studies. They suggested that twin researchers might consider strategies to over-enroll DZ pairs to maximize statistical power. In contrast, we now find that of the 3217 twin births in Colorado from 2006 to 2008 with identified sex information the MZ rate is estimated at only 22%, and we have corroborating reports from other states of similar estimates. These were calculated applying Weinberg’s rule which assumes an equal birth rate for same sex and opposite sex DZ pairs so that the proportion of MZ in a sample is the proportion of same sex (MM + FF) minus the proportion of opposite-sex (MF, FM). We explore factors, such as an increase in the proportion of non-Caucasian parents and an increase in average maternal age, which may contribute to this shift.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study was funded by NIH grants U01DA041120 and AA023974.
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- MZ status
- Twin birth rate