Twin Research


Long-term effect of placental type on anthropometrical and psychological traits among monozygotic twins: a follow up study

Lise Gutknechta1 c1 p1, Elizabeth Spitza2 and Michele Carliera3

a1 UPR 9074 CNRS Genetics Neurogenetics Behavior Transg´enose Institute, Orleans, France.

a2 UPR 9074 CNRS Genetics Neurogenetics Behavior Transg´enose Institute, Orleans, France.

a3 UPR 9074 CNRS Genetics Neurogenetics Behavior Transgéenose Institute, Orleans, France.


The long-term effect of differences in placentation in MZ twins is a controversial subject. An effect has been clearly established for birth weight but data on psychological traits are still under debate. We studied 20 pairs of monochorionic MZ (MCMZ) and 24 pairs of dichorionic MZ (DCMZ) twins. A chorion effect was observed for Block Design (WISC-R) confirming a previous report: MC MZ co-twins were more similar that DC MZ co-twins. For anthropometrical measures, an expected effect in the opposite direction was found. No chorion effect was significant for the other variables. A follow up was undertaken 3 years later using cognitive, national academic evaluations, and personality variables. The sample included 16 pairs of MC MZ and 22 pairs of DC MZ twins. Again a chorion effect was observed on anthropometrical variables but results on the Block Design were not replicated. However, the MC MZ co-twins were more similar than the DC MZ co-twins for two other cognitive variables: Perceptual Organization Index from the WISC-R and Global Visualisation from a Belgian reasoning test. Among the personality variables only one was sensitive to a chorion effect. The discussion focuses on the need for larger samples to achieve adequate power in statistical comparisons.

(Received November 25 1998)

(Accepted April 27 1999)


  • twins;
  • placenta;
  • intelligence;
  • weight;
  • height;
  • body mass;
  • personality;
  • uterine environment


c1 Correspondence: Lise Gutknecht, UPR 9074 CNRS Génétique Neurogénétique Comportement Institut de Transgénose, 3b rue de la Férollerie, 45071 Orleans Cedex 2, France. Tel: (33) 02 38 25 79 73; Fax: (33) 02 38 25 79 79;

p1 Present address: University of Metz, Laboratory of Psychology, Ile de Saulcy, 57000 Metz, France