Models are presented for the analysis of longitudinal data from same-age twins which permit the exploration of a remarkably diverse array of alternative explanations for continuity and change during development. Data of this type permit the detection of new sources of genetic or environmental covariation during development that are not expressed at earlier ages and, because they include the effects of age-specific genes, the resulting heritability estimates are more reliable than those obtained from relatives who differ in age. The proposed models were applied to measurements of HDL cholesterol obtained on 81 pairs of monozygotic (MZ) twins and 69 dizygotic (DZ) pairs at 11, 12.5 and 14 years of age. All three MZ co-twin correlations were substantially higher than the self correlations across occasions, suggesting that new sources of genetic or environmental covariation must be expressed during early adolescence. This interpretation was confirmed by analysis of the full covariance matrices which showed that only models which assumed the expression of new or age-specific genes could explain the observed pattern of covariation. Because they include the effects of age-specific genes, the resulting heritabilities (0.80-0.83) were substantially higher than many previous estimates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology