Twin Research and Human Genetics


Medical Record Validation of Maternal Recall of Pregnancy and Birth Events From a Twin Cohort

Jianghong Liua1 c1, Catherine Tuvblada2, Linda Lia1, Adrian Rainea3 and Laura A. Bakera2

a1 School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

a2 Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

a3 Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA


This study aims to assess the validity of maternal recall for several perinatal variables 8–10 years after pregnancy in a twin sample. Retrospective information was collected 8–10 years after the delivery event in a cohort of mothers from the University of Southern California Twin Study (N = 611) and compared with medical records for validity analysis. Recall of most variables showed substantial to perfect agreement (κ = 0.60–1.00), with notable exceptions for specific medical problems during pregnancy (κ ≤ 0.40) and substance use when mothers provided continuous data (e.g., number of cigarettes per day; r ≤ 0.24). With the exception of delivery method, neonatal intensive care unit admission, birth weight, neonatal information, and post-delivery complications were also recalled with low accuracy. For mothers of twins, maternal recall is generally a valid measure for perinatal variables 10 years after pregnancy. However, caution should be taken regarding variables such as substance use, medical problems, birth length, and post-delivery complications.

(Received May 16 2012)

(Accepted April 16 2013)

(Online publication June 03 2013)


  • twin;
  • maternal recall;
  • recall validity;
  • recall reliability;
  • perinatal pregnancy;
  • birth complication


c1 address for correspondence: Jianghong Liu, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 418 Curie Blvd., Room 426, Claire M. Fagin Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096, USA. E-mail: