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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2006 Feb;9(1):148-54.

Having a co-twin with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood disorder which occurs more often in twins than singletons. This article focuses on the psychosocial consequences of having a co-twin with ADHD. Specifically, the level of anxiety (generalized and separation) in non-ADHD children who have a co-twin with ADHD is examined using data from the Australian Twin ADHD Project (ATAP). Parental report data on 501 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs aged 6 to 15 and their siblings were used to examine (i) anxiety symptoms in twin pairs discordant for ADHD, (ii) how the effects of an ADHD twin on their co-twin and siblings are related to the type of ADHD, and (iii) whether the effects are greater for the nonaffected twin than nontwin siblings. Results show that anxiety was high in co-twins of children with the combined subtype of ADHD, with increased symptoms of both generalized and separation anxiety. Inattentive ADHD had smaller effects, which were confined to generalized anxiety and were specific to the co-twin rather than other siblings. These results have clinical implications in managing the entire multiple birth family where one twin has ADHD, and also has implications for genetic analysis in modeling the relationship of ADHD to internalizing disorders.

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