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Twins help Aberdeen medical studies
A team of medical researchers from the University of Aberdeen will be seeing double next week when twins born at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital between 1949 and 1980 will attend a unique research seminar on Wednesday, October 17, at 7.30pm, in the King’s College Conference Centre.
These volunteers have all taken part in a study designed to investigate whether being small at birth affected the risk of heart disease in adult life, in what is believed to be the first project of its kind in Scotland.
Twins were chosen as they provide a unique opportunity to study the effect of birth weight differences in isolation from genetic influences on birth weight.
Research Fellow, Dr Geraldine McNeill, Departments of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Child Health, University of Aberdeen, said: “Many other studies have shown that smaller babies are more at risk of adult heart disease than larger babies. However, in these twins we have been able to show that this is more likely to be the result of genetic or maternal influences on birth weight rather than the effect of restricted growth in itself.”
In the study the participants had measurements of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other risk factors for heart disease. Their lifestyle (physical activity, diet and smoking) was also assessed. Information on their birth weight was obtained from the high standard of records held at the Maternity Hospital. The fact that many people born in Aberdeen remain within the area was also an important factor in determining the success of the study.
In this study no significant effect of birth weight on the risk factors for heart disease was found: on average the smaller twin of a pair was not more likely to have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or high blood sugar than his or her heavier twin.
Future research will investigate whether genes known to influence heart disease are linked to birth weight and whether the same genes can influence the effect of diet on blood cholesterol.
Any twins interested in taking part in these studies should contact Lindsey Masson on: (01224) 559365, for further information.
Dr Geraldine McNeill, Departments of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Child Health, University of Aberdeen. Tel: 01224 558198 or 01224 552518.
University of Aberdeen Media Relations Office. Tel: 01224 272014.
Issued by Public Relations Office, External Relations, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: 01224 272014 Fax: 01224 272086.
University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.