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Genetic study of the height and weight process during infancy

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Author: Dommelen, P. van · Gunst, M.C.M. de · Vaart, A.W. van der · Boomsma, D.I.
Source:Twin Research, 6, 7, 607-616
Identifier: 238223
doi: doi:10.1375/1369052042663805
Keywords: biometry · data analysis · dizygotic twins · environmental factor · female · genetic analysis · genetic variability · growth curve · growth rate · heredity · heritability · infancy · major clinical study · male · monozygotic twins · newborn · sex difference · Adolescent · Adult · Age Factors · Algorithms · Body Height · Body Weight · Gestational Age · Humans · Infant · Infant, Newborn · Longitudinal Studies · Models, Genetic · Netherlands · Twins · Twins, Dizygotic · Twins, Monozygotic


Longitudinal height and weight data from 4649 Dutch twin pairs between birth and 2.5 years of age were analyzed. The data were first summarized into parameters of a polynomial of degree 4 by a mixed-effects procedure. Next, the variation and covariation in the parameters of the growth curve (size at one year of age, growth velocity, deceleration of growth, rate of change in deceleration [i.e., jerk] and rate of change in jerk [i.e., snap]) were decomposed into genetic and nongenetic sources. Additionally, the variation in the estimated size at birth and at 2 years of age interpolated from the polynomial was decomposed into genetic and nongenetic components. Variation in growth was best characterized by a genetic model which included additive genetic, common environmental and specific environmental influences, plus effects of gestational age. The effect of gestational age was largest for size at birth, explaining 39% of the variance. The differences between monozygotic and dizygotic twin correlations were largest for size at 1 and 2 years of age and growth velocity of weight, which suggests that these parameters are more influenced by heritability than size at birth, deceleration and jerk. The percentage of variance explained by additive genetic influences for height at 2 years of age was 52% for females and 58% for males. For weight at 2 years of age, heritability was approximately 58% for both sexes. Variation in snap height for males was also mainly influenced by additive genetic factors, while snap for females was influenced by both additive genetic and common environmental factors. The correlations for the additive genetic and common environmental factors for deceleration and snap are large, indicating that these parameters are almost entirely under control of the same additive genetic and common environmental factors. Female jerk and snap, and also female height at birth and height at 2 years of age, are mostly under control of the same additive genetic factor.