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Am J Med Genet. 1993 Nov 1;47(6):857-61.

Fetal alcohol syndrome in twins of alcoholic mothers: concordance of diagnosis and IQ.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle.


The effects of teratogens can be modified by genetic differences in fetal susceptibility and resistance. Twins of alcoholic mothers provide a unique opportunity to study this phenomenon with respect to alcohol teratogenesis. Sixteen pairs of twins, 5 MZ and 11 DZ, all heavily exposed to alcohol prenatally, were evaluated. They represented all available twins of alcohol-abusing mothers who were on the patient rolls of the authors. The rate of concordance for diagnosis was 5/5 for MZ and 7/11 for DZ twins. In two DZ pairs, one twin had fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), while the other had fetal alcohol effects (FAE). In 2 other DZ pairs, one twin had no diagnosis while one had FAE. IQ scores were most similar within pairs of MZ twins and least similar within pairs of DZ twins discordant for diagnosis. Despite equivalent alcohol exposure within twin pairs, alcohol teratogenesis appears to be more uniformly expressed in MZ than in DZ twins. These data are interpreted as reflecting the modulating influence of genes in the expression of the teratogenic effects of alcohol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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