Twin Research and Human Genetics


The Young Netherlands Twin Register (YNTR): Longitudinal Twin and Family Studies in Over 70,000 Children

Catharina E. M. van Beijsterveldta1 c1, Maria Groen-Blokhuisa1, Jouke Jan Hottengaa1, Sanja Franića1, James J. Hudziaka2, Diane Lamba1, Charlotte Huppertza1, Eveline de Zeeuwa1, Michel Nivarda1, Nienke Schuttea1, Suzanne Swagermana1, Tina Glasnera1, Michelle van Fulpena1, Cyrina Brouwera1, Therese Stroeta1, Dustin Nowotnya3a4, Erik A. Ehlia3, Gareth E. Daviesa3a4, Paul Scheeta5, Jacob F. Orlebekea1, Kees-Jan Kana1, Dirk Smita1, Conor V. Dolana1, Christel M. Middeldorpa1, Eco J. C. de Geusa1, Meike Bartelsa1 and Dorret I. Boomsmaa1

a1 Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Psychiatry and Medicine (Division of Human Genetics), Center for Children, Youth and Families, College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA

a3 Avera Institute for Human Genetics, Sioux Falls, SD, USA

a4 Department of Psychiatry, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, USA

a5 Department of Epidemiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA


The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) began in 1987 with data collection in twins and their families, including families with newborn twins and triplets. Twenty-five years later, the NTR has collected at least one survey for 70,784 children, born after 1985. For the majority of twins, longitudinal data collection has been done by age-specific surveys. Shortly after giving birth, mothers receive a first survey with items on pregnancy and birth. At age 2, a survey on growth and achievement of milestones is sent. At ages 3, 7, 9/10, and 12 parents and teachers receive a series of surveys that are targeted at the development of emotional and behavior problems. From age 14 years onward, adolescent twins and their siblings report on their behavior problems, health, and lifestyle. When the twins are 18 years and older, parents are also invited to take part in survey studies. In sub-groups of different ages, in-depth phenotyping was done for IQ, electroencephalography , MRI, growth, hormones, neuropsychological assessments, and cardiovascular measures. DNA and biological samples have also been collected and large numbers of twin pairs and parents have been genotyped for zygosity by either micro-satellites or sets of short nucleotide polymorphisms and repeat polymorphisms in candidate genes. Subject recruitment and data collection is still ongoing and the longitudinal database is growing. Data collection by record linkage in the Netherlands is beginning and we expect these combined longitudinal data to provide increased insights into the genetic etiology of development of mental and physical health in children and adolescents.

(Received September 20 2012)

(Accepted October 12 2012)

(Online publication November 28 2012)


  • newborn twins;
  • longitudinal data collection;
  • development;
  • cognition;
  • psychopathology


c1 address for correspondence: C. E. M. van Beijsterveldt, Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: