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Twin studies of disease heritability based on medical records: application to acne vulgaris

Establishment of the Kaiser-Permanente Twin Registry permitted the study of disease heritability in twins based on review of the twins’ medical records. The records of 930 pairs of twins were reviewed. Based on previous questionnaires, 342 pairs were MZ, 345 were DZ and 243 were of unknown zygosity. Because of the age distribution of these twins and the time period in which they received care, conditions of youth, such as acne vulgaris were most reliably studied. Heritability of acne was assessed in three ways; all indicated a substantial genetic influence. Certain problems with twin studies using medical records became apparent: 1) Zygosity information is often lacking; 2) Differing times and durations of observation of the two twins in each pair must be accounted for; 3) Categorization by diagnosis is difficult and strict criteria for diagnosis may be impractical; 4) Patients’ behavior that affects assessment of disease concordance must be considered; 5) The order in which records are reviewed may influence apparent concordance.

Authors: Friedman GD

Acta Genet Med Gemellol (Roma). 1984;33(3):487-95.

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