VATER/VACTERL Association: Identification of Seven New Twin Pairs, a Systematic Review of the Literature, and a Classical Twin Analysis

Clin Dysmorphol. 2012 Oct;21(4):191-5. doi: 10.1097/MCD.0b013e328358243c.


The VATER/VACTERL association is typically defined by the presence of at least three of the following congenital malformations: vertebral anomalies, anal atresia, cardiac malformations, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities. The identification of 14 twin pairs with an initial diagnosis of VATER/VACTERL association at our clinical centers led to the performance of a classical twin study. This involved a thorough evaluation of these 14 twin pairs and a further 55 twin pairs identified from a systematic review of the literature. The zygosity, concordance, and malformation status of all 69 twin pairs were evaluated. Twenty-four twin pairs fulfilled the criteria for inclusion in a comparison of the concordance rates between monozygous (MZ) and dizygous (DZ) twin pairs. The pairwise concordance rates were 15% [95% confidence interval (CI) 4-42%] for MZ and 18% (95% CI 5-48%) for DZ twin pairs (P=0.53). The probandwise concordance rates were 27% (95% CI 11-52%) for MZ and 31% (95% CI 13-58%) for DZ twin pairs (P=0.40). Although based on a limited number of twin pairs, the findings of the present study are consistent with the low number of familial cases reported to date, and suggest that the role of inherited genetic factors in the majority of VATER/VACTERL cases is limited.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Anus, Imperforate / pathology*
  • Diseases in Twins / pathology*
  • Esophagus / abnormalities
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Radius / abnormalities
  • Radius / pathology
  • Spine / abnormalities
  • Spine / pathology
  • Trachea / abnormalities
  • Trachea / pathology
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic

Supplementary concepts

  • VATER association