High prevalence of same-sex twins in patients with cloacal exstrophy: Support for embryological association with monozygotic twinning

J Pediatr Surg. 2017 May;52(5):807-809. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2017.01.043. Epub 2017 Jan 30.


Purpose: Previous studies have hypothesized that cloacal exstrophy may be caused by errors early in embryological development related to monozygotic twinning. This study reports the prevalence of twins in a large cohort of patients with cloacal exstrophy.

Methods: Patients with cloacal exstrophy treated 1974-2015 were reviewed for reports of multiple gestation or conjoined twinning. The genetic sex of the patient and their twin, and any mention of anomaly in the twin were recorded. Neither placental exam nor genetic testing results were available to definitively determine zygosity.

Results: Of 71 patients, 10 had a live born twin (14%), all of whom were of the same genetic sex as the affected patient. One additional patient's twin suffered intrauterine fetal demise, and another patient had a conjoined heteropagus twin. None of the twins were affected by exstrophy-epispadias complex. The rate of twin birth in this cohort was 4.4-7.7 higher than that reported by the Centers for Disease Control in the general population time period (P<0.001), with a striking preponderance of same-sex pairs.

Conclusions: The highly significant prevalence of same-sex twin pairs within this cohort supports the hypothesis that the embryogenesis of cloacal exstrophy may be related to errors in monozygotic twinning.

Level of evidence: 2b.

Keywords: Birth defects; Cloacal exstrophy; Congenital anomalies; Embryogenesis; OEIS; Twins.

MeSH terms

  • Anus, Imperforate / embryology*
  • Anus, Imperforate / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hernia, Umbilical / embryology*
  • Hernia, Umbilical / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / embryology*
  • Scoliosis / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Twinning, Monozygotic*
  • Twins, Monozygotic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urogenital Abnormalities / embryology*
  • Urogenital Abnormalities / epidemiology

Supplementary concepts

  • Omphalocele exstrophy imperforate anus