Lancet. 2003 Aug 30;362(9385):735-43. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14237-7.


Twinning has fascinated human beings over the centuries. New technologies and large study groups have led to improved documentation of frequency and complications in twin pregnancies and long-term outcomes. Artificial reproductive technologies have led to a pronounced rise in numbers of dizygotic and monozygotic twins. Although spontaneous dizygotic twinning is clearly associated with increased concentration of follicle-stimulating hormone and ovulation of more than one egg, causes of monozygotic twinning remain illusive. Twin studies are used increasingly to study complex traits and disorders: however, caution is suggested, since twins might not be representative of a typical singleton pregnancy. Monozygotic twinning seems to represent an anomaly in itself, with an increased number of spontaneous abortions and structural congenital anomalies. Both monozygotic and dizygotic twins have growth rates that slow at 30 weeks in utero and might be programmed both developmentally and biochemically earlier in pregnancy to have different responses at birth and after birth compared with singletons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Chorion / embryology
  • Chorion / physiology
  • Diseases in Twins / embryology
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / genetics
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Research Design
  • Sex Ratio
  • Twin Studies as Topic / methods
  • Twinning, Monozygotic / genetics
  • Twinning, Monozygotic / physiology*
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics