Heritability of parturition timing: an extended twin design analysis

Zachary A.F. Kistka, Emily A. DeFranco, Lannie Ligthart, Gonneke Willemsen, Jevon Plunkett, Louis J. Muglia, Dorret I. Boomsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of the study was to assess relative maternal and paternal genetic influences on birth timing. Study Design: Utilizing The Netherlands Twin Registry, we examined the correlation in birth timing of infants born to monozygotic (MZ) twins and their first-degree relatives (dizygotic twins and siblings of twins). Genetic models estimated the relative influence of genetic and common environmental factors through model fitting of additive genetic (A), common environmental (C), individual-specific environmental factors, and combinations thereof. Results: We evaluated birth timing correlation among the infants of 1390 twins and their 644 siblings. The correlation in MZ female twins (r = 0.330) was greater than MZ male twins (r = -0.096). Positive correlation were also found in sister-sister pairs (r = 0.223) but not in brother-brother (r = -0.045) or brother-sister pairs (r = -0.038). The most parsimonious AE model indicated a significant maternal contribution of genetic and individual-specific environmental factors to birth timing, but no paternal heritability was demonstrated. Heritability of birth timing in women was 34%; and the remaining variance (66%) was caused by individual-specific environmental factors. Conclusion: Our data implicate a significant contribution of maternal but not paternal genetic influences on birth timing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43.e1-43.e5
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • birth timing
  • parturition
  • pregnancy
  • twin study
  • twins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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