What We Can Learn From Twins
Congenital Heart Disease in the Danish Twin Registry
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Our understanding of the causes of congenital heart defects has benefited tremendously from state-of-the-art genetic and epigenetic tools. The rapid progress is due in part to the development of novel, high-throughput, cost-effective sequencing technology—so-called next-generation sequencing—that has made it possible to sequence the entire genome or all genes (whole exome sequencing). However, to fully understand the causes of congenital heart disease, it has been important also to study population-based data that are available from large registries, which may take decades to establish. One such program has been in existence for >60 years and has provided novel insights into the genetic and environmental mechanisms of many diseases including congenital heart defects. The Danish Twin Registry is one of the oldest twin registries in the world, and it contains information about twins born in Denmark over the past 130 years.1
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In the current study, Herskind et al2 analyze data from the Danish Twin study, and the Danish National Patient Registry, as well, to examine the relationship of twin gestation to the development of congenital heart defects. Numerous investigators have suggested that twin gestation is associated with an increased risk of …