Discordance of prenatal and neonatal brain development in twins

Niyati Mukherjee, Chaeryon Kang, Honor M. Wolfe, Barbara S. Hertzberg, J. Keith Smith, Weili Lin, Guido Gerig, Robert M. Hamer, John H. Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Discordance of birth weight has been observed in twin pairs, though little is known about prenatal and early neonatal discordance of head and brain size, and the role that zygosity and chorionicity play in discordances of early brain development in twins. Aims: To compare prenatal and neonatal discordances of head size in monozygotic-monochorionic (MZ-MC), monozygotic-dichorionic (MZ-DC), and same-sex dizygotic-dichorionic twin pairs (DZ). Study design: Subjects prospectively had ultrasounds at 22 and 32 weeks gestational age, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain MRI after birth. Subjects: 88 twin pairs recruited from two university hospital prenatal diagnostic clinics; 22 MZ-MC, 17 MZ-DC, and 49 same-sex DZ pairs. Outcome measures: Discordance of head circumference (HC) and weight at 22 weeks, 32 weeks and birth, as well as intracranial volume (ICV) on neonatal MRI. Results: There were no group differences in discordance of head circumference and weight on the 22 or 32 week ultrasounds, or at birth. MZ-MC twins tended to have numerically greater discordances of HC and weight. There was a significant group difference in ICV on neonatal MRI (ANOVA, p = 0.0143), with DZ twins having significantly greater discordance than MZ-MC (p = 0.028) or MZ-DC (p = 0.0131) twins. Conclusions: This study indicates that zygosity and chorionicity do not contribute to significant discordances of head size in late prenatal development. DZ twins do have significantly greater discordances of ICV on neonatal MRI, suggesting a relatively greater genetic influence on brain growth in the first weeks after birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-175
Number of pages5
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Chorionicity
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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