Twin Research

Articles/Italy

The Italian Twin Project: From the Personal Identification Number to a National Twin Registry

Maria Antonietta Stazia1 c1, Rodolfo Cotichinia2, Valeria Patriarcaa3, Sonia Brescianinia4, Corrado Fagnania5, Cristina D'Ippolitoa6, Stefania Cannonia7, Giovanni Ristoria8 and Marco Salvettia9

a1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italystazi@iss.it

a2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

a3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

a4 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

a5 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

a6 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

a7 Department of Neurosciences, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy

a8 Department of Neurosciences, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy

a9 Department of Neurosciences, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy

Abstract

The unique opportunity given by the “fiscal code”, an alphanumeric identification with demographic information on any single person residing in Italy, introduced in 1976 by the Ministry of Finance, allowed a database of all potential Italian twins to be created. This database contains up to now name, surname, date and place of birth and home address of about 1,300,000 “possible twins”. Even thought we estimated an excess of 40% of pseudo-twins, this still is the world's largest twin population ever collected. The database of possible twins is currently used in population-based studies on multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. A system is currently being developed for linking the database with data from mortality and cancer registries. In 2001, the Italian Government, through the Ministry of Health, financed a broad national research program on twin studies, including the establishment of a national twin registry. Among all the possible twins, a sample of 500,000 individuals are going to be contacted and we expect to enrol around 120,000 real twin pairs in a formal Twin Registry. According to available financial resources, a sub sample of the enrolled population will be asked to donate DNA. A biological bank from twins will be then implemented, guaranteeing information on future etiological questions regarding genetic and modifiable factors for physical impairment and disability, cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other age related chronic illnesses.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Maria Antonietta Stazi, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299; 00161 Rome, Italy.

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