We investigated genetic and environmental influences common to adolescent externalizing behavior (at age 12), smoking (at age 14) and initiation of drug use (at age 17) using the FinnTwin12 cohort data. Multivariate Cholesky models were fit to data from 737 monozygotic and 722 dizygotic twin pairs. Heritability of externalizing behavior was 56%, that of smoking initiation/amount 20/32%, and initiation of drug use 27%. In the best-fitting model common environmental influences explained most of the covariance between externalizing behavior and smoking initiation (69%) and amount (77%). Covariance between smoking initiation/amount and drug use was due to additive genetic (42/22%) and common environmental (58/78%) influences. Half of the covariance between externalizing behavior and drug use was due to shared genetic and half due to the environments shared by co-twins. Using a longitudinal, prospective design, our results indicate that early observed externalizing behavior provides significant underlying genetic and environmental influences common to later substance use, here manifested as initiation of drug use in late adolescence.
This study examined genetic and environmental contributions to the covariance between aggression and hyperactivity-impulsivity as rated by twins' teachers and parents. Sex-differences in these genetic and environmental contributions and rater bias/sibling interaction effects were of interest as well. Part of an ongoing nation-wide twin-family study of behavioral development and health habits, the sample consisted of 1636 Finnish twin pairs ascertained from five consecutive and complete twin birth cohorts. Data were collected at ages 11-12, using teacher and parental rating forms of the Multidimensional Peer Nomination Inventory. Bivariate analyses were performed using structural equation modeling allowing sex-limitation effects. Results show that, in addition to significant genetic and environmental influences specific to each behavior, aggression and hyperactivity-impulsivity share common genetic and environmental etiology. Results provide evidence that both genetic and environmental factors are important in creating the observed correlation between aggression and hyperactivity-impulsivity.
This study identified genetic and environmental influences on the tracking of body size from birth to 16 to 18.5 years of age.
Longitudinal information was collected from a nationally representative sample of Finnish twin adolescents (birth cohorts 1975 to 1979) and their parents through questionnaires mailed when the twins were ages 16 and 18.5 years old. The sample included 702 monozygotic, 724 same-sex dizygotic, and 762 opposite-sex dizygotic sets of twins. The measures used were length, weight, ponderal index (kilograms per cubic meters), and gestational age at birth, and height, weight, and body mass index (kilograms per square meters) at 16 to 18.5 years of age. The changes in genetic and environmental influences on body size from birth to early adulthood were analyzed by quantitative genetic modeling.
The twins who had a higher weight or ponderal index at birth were taller and heavier in early adulthood, whereas those who were longer at birth were taller, but not heavier, later in life. Adult height was affected more by the birth size than body mass index. In the genetic modeling analyses, the genetic factors accounting for the variation of body size became more apparent with age, and both genetic and environmental influences on stature had a sizable carry-over effect from birth to late adolescence, whereas for relative weight, the influences were more age-specific.
The genetic and environmental architecture of body size changes from birth to adulthood. Even in monozygotic twins who share their genetic background, the initially larger twin tended to remain larger, demonstrating the long-lasting effects of fetal environment on final body size.
The progression to alcohol dependence unfolds across multiple stages, including the decision to initiate use, the development of regular patterns of use, and (for some individuals) the subsequent development of problems associated with alcohol use. Using data from two population-based, longitudinal twin studies, FinnTwin16 (FT16) and FinnTwin12 (FT12), we applied multiple stage genetic models (Heath et al., Twin Res. 5 (2002) 113) to better understand the extent to which genetic and environmental influences impact the initiation of alcohol use, frequency of use in adolescence and young adulthood, and alcohol problems in young adulthood. Shared environmental factors played a large role in initiation, and a more moderate role on frequency of use, and it was largely the same influences acting across these stages of use. However, there was no significant evidence of shared environmental influences on alcohol problems in early adulthood. Problems were largely influenced by genetic factors that overlapped with genetic influences on frequency of use. Unique environmental factors were largely specific to each stage, with some overlap between alcohol problems and frequency of use at age 25.
Early maturation, indexed by pubertal development (PD), has been associated with earlier initiation and greater frequency of adolescent substance use, but this relationship may be biased by confounding factors and effects that change across development. Using a population-based Finnish twin sample (N = 3,632 individuals), we conducted twin modeling and multilevel structural equation modeling of the relationship between PD and substance use at ages 12-22. Shared environmental factors contributed to early PD and heavier substance use for females. Biological father absence was associated with early PD for boys but not girls, and did not account for the relationship between PD and substance use. The association between early PD and heavier substance use was partially due to between-family confounds, although early PD appeared to qualitatively alter long-term trajectories for some substances (nicotine), but not others (alcohol). Mediation by peer and parental factors did not explain this relationship within families. However, higher peer substance use and lower parental monitoring were themselves associated with heavier substance use, strengthening the existing evidence for these factors as targets for prevention/intervention efforts. Early maturation was not supported as a robust determinant of alcohol use trajectories in adolescence and young adulthood, but may require longer term follow-up. Subtle effects of early PD on nicotine and illicit drug use trajectories throughout adolescence and adulthood merit further investigation.
The consequences of heavy alcohol use remain a serious public health problem. Consistent evidence has demonstrated that both genetic and social influences contribute to alcohol use. Research on gene-environment interaction (GxE) has also demonstrated that these social and genetic influences do not act independently. Instead, certain environmental contexts may limit or exacerbate an underlying genetic predisposition. However, much of the work on GxE and alcohol use has focused on adolescence and less is known about the important environmental contexts in young adulthood. Using data from the young adult wave of the Finnish Twin Study, FinnTwin12 (N?=?3402), we used biometric twin modeling to test whether education moderated genetic risk for alcohol use as assessed by drinking frequency and intoxication frequency. Education is important because it offers greater access to personal resources and helps determine one's position in the broader stratification system. Results from the twin models show that education did not moderate genetic variance components and that genetic risk was constant across levels of education. Instead, education moderated environmental variance so that under conditions of low education, environmental influences explained more of the variation in alcohol use outcomes. The implications and limitations of these results are discussed.
We explored correlates of the Eating Disorder Inventory subscales Body Dissatisfaction (BD) and Drive for Thinness (DT) and genetic and environmental influences on these traits.
In a population-based sample of 4,667 Finnish twins aged 22-27 years, we conducted twin modeling to explore genetic and environmental contributions to body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness. Logistic regression was used for the correlational analysis.
Various eating and body size-related factors and psychosomatic symptoms were significantly associated with high body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness in both genders. In women, early puberty onset, early initiation of sexual activity, and multiple sex partners were statistically significant risk factors of body dissatisfaction. In gender-specific univariate twin models, additive genes accounted for 59.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 53.2-64.7%) of the variance in body dissatisfaction and for 51.0% (95% CI = 43.7-57.5%) of the variance in drive for thinness among females, but for none of the variance among males.
There are very distinct gender differences in the heritability patterns of body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness in young adults.
We use data from a population-based twin study to examine the association between characteristics of the friendship group and adolescents' own alcohol use at age 14, with focus on gender differences, both with respect to the adolescent's own gender and the gender composition of his/her friendship group.
(1) We conducted analyses on the full epidemiological sample of individuals to determine the magnitude of association between friendship characteristics and alcohol use, and to test for interaction with gender and gender of friends. (2) We used the twin structure of the dataset to study the extent to which similarity in drinking behaviors between adolescents and their friends was due to shared genetic and/or environmental pathways.
Friends' drinking, smoking, and delinquency were more strongly related to alcohol use in girls, compared to boys, and in adolescents with opposite-sex friends, compared to adolescents with only same-sex friends. Friends' alcohol use showed modest evidence of genetic influence in girls, suggesting peer selection; however, there was no evidence of genetic influence on friends' alcohol use in boys. The correlation between adolescent and friend drinking was largely attributable to shared environmental effects across genders.
Gender and gender of friends moderate the associations between friends' behavior and adolescents' alcohol use, with evidence that girls, and those with opposite-sex friends, may be more susceptible to friends' influence. Genetically informative analyses suggest that similarity in alcohol use between adolescents and their friends is mediated, at least partially, through environmental pathways.
Assortative mating by body height and weight is well established in various populations, but its causal mechanisms remain poorly understood. We analyzed the effect of phenotypic assortment and social homogamy on spousal correlations for body height and body mass index (BMI, kg/m(2)). Our data derived from a questionnaire administered to the adult Finnish Twin Cohort in 1990 (response rate 77%) yielding results from 922 monozygotic and 1697 dizygotic adult twin pairs who reported information about their body height and weight and that of their spouses. Assortative mating was evident for body height and BMI. For body height, the effects of social homogamy (0.24 in men and 0.29 in women) and phenotypic assortment (0.27 and 0.28, respectively) were about the same. For BMI, the effect of social homogamy was stronger (0.31 in men and 0.28 in women) than the effect of phenotypic assortment (0.13 in both men and women). When assortative mating was taken into account, shared environmental factors had no effect on phenotypic variation in body height or BMI. Our results show that assortative mating needs to be considered in population genetic studies of body height and weight.
Physical activity and academic performance are positively associated, but the direction of the association is poorly understood. This longitudinal study examined the direction and magnitude of the associations between leisure-time physical activity and academic performance throughout adolescence and young adulthood. The participants were Finnish twins (from 2,859 to 4,190 individuals/study wave) and their families. In a cross-lagged path model, higher academic performance at ages 12, 14 and 17 predicted higher leisure-time physical activity at subsequent time-points (standardized path coefficient at age 14: 0.07 (p?
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In the population-based Finn Twin 16 study, proportions of genetic and environmental factors contributing to muscle dissatisfaction and muscle-enhancing substance use were assessed in 319 pairs of twin brothers: 141 monozygotic (MZ) and 178 dizygotic (DZ) pairs. In addition there were 86 twin individuals from pairs in which only one co-twin responded. Of all respondents, 30% experienced high muscle dissatisfaction. The corresponding proportion of muscle-enhancing substance use was 10%. The subjects were similar in age (23.8 years, 95% confidence interval [CI] 23.76-23.84), body mass index (23.7, 95% CI 23.5-23.9), and waist circumference (84.5 cm, 95% CI 83.7-85.2), independent of their muscle dissatisfaction or muscle-enhancing substance use status and independent of their zygosity. The MZ polychoric correlation for muscle dissatisfaction was .39 (95% CI .17-.58) and .27 for DZ pairs (95% CI .07-.46). The MZ tetrachoric correlation for muscle-enhancing substance use was .65 (95% CI .28-.87) and .56 for DZ pairs (95% CI .26-.78). The AE model, where additive genetic factors (A) accounted for 42% (95% CI .23-.59) and unique environmental factors (E) 58% (95% CI .41-.77) of the liability, provided the best fit for muscle dissatisfaction. The CE model, where common environmental factors (C) accounted for 60% (95% CI .37-.77) and unique environmental factors (E) 40% (95% CI .23-.63) of the liability, provided the best fit for muscle-enhancing substance use. Both genetic and unique (nonfamilial) environmental factors are involved in muscle dissatisfaction in the population. Nongenetic factors (both familial and nonfamilial) appear to best explain the use of muscle-enhancing substances.
Family, twin and adoption studies have provided evidence for familial and genetic influences on individual differences in disease risk and in human behavior. Attempts to identify individual genes accounting for these differences have not been outstandingly successful to date, and at best, known genes account for only a fraction of the familiality of most traits or diseases. More detailed knowledge of the dynamics of gene action and of specific environmental conditions are needed. Twin and twin-family studies with multiple measurements of risk factors and morbidity over time can permit a much more detailed assessment of the developmental dynamics of disease risk and the unfolding of behavioral risk factors.
The role of co-twin dependence (twins' closeness or reliance on the co-twin) was examined as a moderator of genetic and environmental influences on alcohol use in adolescence and early adulthood in a large longitudinal population-based study of Finnish twins (FinnTwin16). The associations between co-twin dependence and alcohol use were studied first at an individual level in adolescence (n = 3362) and early adulthood (n = 2912). Then, maximum likelihood models were fit to the two waves of data from same-sex twin pairs to assess the differences and changes in genetic and environmental influences on alcohol use (abstinence, drinking frequency, intoxication frequency); N = 1342 pairs in adolescence, and N = 1078 pairs in early adulthood. Overall, no significant associations were found between co-twin dependence and individual alcohol use. However, co-twin dependence importantly modulated genetic effects on drinking habits, especially in adolescence, but also in early adulthood. Co-twin-dependent twins reported greater similarity in their alcohol-related behavior across all alcohol-use measures at both time points, and the role of genes and environments varied according to co-twin dependence. Shared environmental factors explained most of the variation in drinking among co-twin-dependent twins in adolescence and contributed to drinking to intoxication during early adulthood. In contrast, among co-twin-independent twin pairs, genetic variance contributed significantly to all alcohol-use measures at both time-points. An interdependent sibling relationship is an important modifier of drinking habits, and it appears to reduce the impact of inherited liabilities on alcohol-related behavior especially in adolescence.
With behavior genetic analyses of data from young adult twins, we evaluated theoretical perspectives that differentially emphasize biological dispositions, social/cultural factors, or universal pathways to explain individual differences in sexual behaviors.
We fit biometric sex limitation models to three aspects of sexual behavior reported by 4,925 Finnish twins ages 23-27.
From a postal questionnaire, we obtained self-report information on initiation/abstinence of sexual intercourse, onset age, and number of sexual partners.
Genetic and non-shared environmental influences were significant for all three measures. There were trends for common environmental influences on initiation and, in females, age at first intercourse. Some differential effects in males and females were found. Results comparing onset age and number of partners among experienced twins from pairs concordant and discordant for initiation found genetic and environmental influences on initiation/abstinence overlapped those found for the other aspects of sexual behavior.
These results document genetic variation in individual differences in sexual behavior of young adults. Incorporating genetic dispositions into integrated models of sexual behavior will facilitate more effective health promotion and risk taking intervention.
We analysed genetic and environmental influences on self-esteem and its stability in adolescence.
Finnish twins born in 1983-1987 were assessed by questionnaire at ages 14 (n = 4132 twin individuals) and 17 years (n = 3841 twin individuals). Self-esteem was measured using the Rosenberg global self-esteem scale and analyzed using quantitative genetic methods for twin data in the Mx statistical package.
The heritability of self-esteem was 0.62 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.56-0.68] in 14-year-old boys and 0.40 (95% CI 0.26-0.54) in 14-year-old girls, while the corresponding estimates at age 17 were 0.48 (95% CI 0.39-0.56) and 0.29 (95% CI 0.11-0.45). Rosenberg self-esteem scores at ages 14 and 17 were modestly correlated (r = 0.44 in boys, r = 0.46 in girls). In boys, the correlation was mainly (82%) due to genetic factors, with residual co-variation due to unique environment. In girls, genetic (31%) and common environmental (61%) factors largely explained the correlation.
In adolescence, self-esteem seems to be differently regulated in boys versus girls. A key challenge for future research is to identify environmental influences contributing to self-esteem during adolescence and determine how these factors interact with genetic influences.
In contrast to many phenotypes that have been studied using twin designs, substance use shows considerable evidence of environmental influence. Accordingly, specifying the relevant environments and understanding the nature of their effects is an important research priority. Twin studies also have demonstrated that the importance of genetic and environmental influences varies across development for a variety of behavioral outcomes, including substance use. Here, we report analyses exploring moderating effects associated with parenting and peer characteristics on adolescent smoking and drinking, measured at ages 14 and 17. We find significant evidence of moderating effects associated with two dimensions of parenting (parental monitoring and time spent in activities with parents) on adolescent smoking, measured at two time points across development, but no moderating effects on adolescent drinking. Genetic influences on smoking increased, and common environmental effects decreased, as adolescents reported less parental monitoring and spending more time with their parents. Conversely, we find evidence that adolescent drinking is more strongly influenced by peer characteristics. The importance of genetic predispositions was increased among adolescents who reported more friends who used alcohol. These analyses illustrate the importance of incorporating measured aspects of the environment into genetically informative twin models to begin to understand how specific environments are related to various outcomes. Furthermore, they illustrate the importance of using a developmental perspective to understand how specific influences may vary across different ages, and across different phenotypes.
To investigate how parental education modifies genetic and environmental influences on variation in BMI during adolescence, self-reported BMI at 11-12, 14, and 17 years of age was collected from a population sample of 2,432 complete Finnish twin pairs born in 1983-1987. Based on parental report, twins were divided to those with high (both parents high school graduates), mixed level (one parent a graduate, the other not), and limited (neither parent a graduate) parental education. Genetic and environmental influences on variation in BMI in different education classes were modeled using twin analysis. Heritability of BMI among 11-12-year-olds with high parental education was 85-87% whereas it was 61-68% if parental education was limited or mixed level. Common environmental effect, i.e., effect of environmental factors shared by family members, was found (17-22%) if parental education was limited or mixed level but not if it was high. With increasing parental education, common environmental variance in BMI decreased at age 14 among boys (from 22 to 3%) and girls (from 17 to 10%); heritability increased among boys from 63 to 78%, but did not change among girls. The common environmental component disappeared and heritability of BMI was larger at the age of 17 in all parental education classes. To conclude, common environment did not affect variation of adolescent BMI in high-educated families but did so in families with limited parental education. This suggests that intervention and prevention campaigns could effectively target families identified by limited parental education.
Twin and family studies have demonstrated that adolescent alcohol use and behavior problems are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. More recently, studies have begun to investigate how genetic and environmental influences may interact, with efforts underway to identify specific environmental variables that moderate the expression of genetic predispositions. Previously, we have reported that community-level factors, including urban/rural residency, migration rates, and prevalence of young adults, moderate the importance of genetic effects on alcohol use in late adolescence (ages 16 to 18). Here, we extend these findings to test for moderating effects of these socioregional factors on alcohol use and behavior problems assessed in a younger sample of adolescent Finnish twins.
Using data from the population-based Finnish twin study, FinnTwin12, biometric twin models were fit to data on >1,400 twin pairs to examine the significance of each of the socioregional moderating variables on alcohol use measured at age 14, and behavior problems, measured at age 12.
We find no evidence of a moderating role of these socioregional variables on alcohol use; however, there was significant moderation of genetic influences on behavior problems, with effects limited to girls. Genetic influences assumed greater importance in urban settings, communities with greater migration, and communities with a higher percentage of slightly older adolescents.
The moderation effects observed on behavior problems in early adolescence paralleled the effects found on alcohol use late in adolescence in an independent sample, providing further support for the idea that behavior problems may represent an earlier manifestation of the predisposition to subsequent alcohol problems. Our findings also support the growing body of evidence suggesting that females may be more susceptible to a variety of environmental influences than males.
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Although use of illicit drugs shows varying degree of heritability, the influence of shared and unique environmental factors predominate among adolescents. We explored factors predicting use of cannabis and other illicit drugs among Finnish adolescent twins.
We used longitudinal data from the FinnTwin12-17 study with baseline at age 11-12 and follow-up at ages 14 and 17(1/2), including 4138 individuals. The outcome was self-reported ever use of cannabis or other illicit drugs at age 17(1/2). The potential predictors were measures reported by the twins, their parents or teachers. As individual factors we tested smoking, alcohol use, behavioral and emotional problems; as peer factors: number of smoking friends and acquaintances with drug experience; as family factors: parental substance use, socio-economic status and pre-natal exposure to nicotine. We used logistic regression models, controlling for twinship, age and sex, to compute odds ratios (OR) for each potential predictor. To adjust for within-family confounds, we conducted conditional logistic regressions among 246 twin pairs discordant for drug use.
13.5% of subjects had initiated use of cannabis or other illicit drugs by age of 17(1/2). When adjusted for within-family confounds, smoking, drinking, and aggressiveness, as well as smoking and drug use among peers predicted use of illicit drugs. In the final regression model, the significant predictors were female sex, early smoking onset, drinking to intoxication, having smoking peers and acquaintances with drug experience, father's weekly drinking to intoxication, and aggressive behavior among boys. Smoking initiation by age of 12 was the most powerful predictor among individuals (OR=26, p
We analyzed genetic and environmental determinants of self-rated health and its change from adolescence to early adulthood. Questionnaires were mailed to Finnish twins born 1975-1979 at ages 16, 17, 18 1/2 and, on average, 25 years of age (N=2465 complete twin pairs). The data were analyzed using quantitative genetic methods for twin data by the Mx statistical package. Heritability of self-rated health was greatest at age 16 (63%, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 56-67%, men and women together) and declined steadily to age 25 (33%, 95% CI 25-41%). The residual variation was due to unshared environments. Health ratings at different ages were modestly correlated (r=0.33-0.61). These correlations were mainly due to genetic factors, but unshared environment also contributed to them. An important challenge for further research is to identify environmental influences contributing to self-rated health independently of, or in interaction with, genetic factors.