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News about Twinlife 

Sophie Groene gepromoveerd!
Januari 2023

Op woensdag 11 januari 2023 is Sophie Groene, promovenda bij de Kindergeneeskunde in het LUMC, cum laude gepromoveerd aan de Universiteit Leiden! De afgelopen vier jaar deed zij onderzoek naar selectieve groeivertraging in monochoriale tweelingen. 

Deze bijzondere groep tweelingen deelt in de baarmoeder samen één placenta die oneerlijk verdeeld is. Dat betekent dat een van de kinderen een veel kleiner oppervlak van de placenta heeft ten opzichte van de ander en dus ook minder voedingsstoffen krijgt. Zo ontstaat er tijdens de zwangerschap een groeiverschil, ook wel ‘selectieve groeivertraging’ genoemd. Bij de geboorte is een groot verschil in geboortegewicht zichtbaar. 

Deze tweelingen worden gezien als een kwetsbare patiëntengroep, waarin veel complicaties kunnen optreden. Toch is er veel onbekend over de gevolgen van selectieve groeivertraging voor de gezondheid van deze tweelingen, wat een goede informatievoorziening voor ouders en risicoschatting door zorgverleners in de weg staat. Tegelijkertijd kunnen deze tweelingen worden beschouwd als een uniek natuurlijk ‘experiment’ om de vroege oorsprong van ziekte en gezondheid na een ongunstige omgeving in de baarmoeder te onderzoeken. Het groei-vertraagde kind kan namelijk worden vergeleken met een genetisch identieke, normaal gegroeide tweeli
ngbroer/zus die in dezelfde baarmoeder van dezelfde moeder heeft gezeten op hetzelfde moment.

In haar proefschrift heeft Sophie onderzoek gedaan naar de placenta mechanismes en de korte- en lange termijn uitkomsten van deze bijzondere groep tweelingen. Haar proefschrift is beschikbaar in het Leids Repositorium.

Sophie zal aanblijven als postdoctoraal onderzoeker en zich gaan focussen op vroege breinontwikkeling in monochoriale tweelingen.

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Milestone: Special umbilical cord cells isolated from 100 Twinlife twin pairs
August 2022

Three years after the start of the Twinlife study, we successfully isolated special cells from the umbilical cord of 100 Twinlife twin pairs. These are the stem cell like cells that are also depicted in our Twinlife logo. We have now started measurements to assess the regulation of the DNA in these cells. By doing this, we hope to learn how the prenatal environments differing between twins influence growth and development after birth.


Vaillant grant for MRI research
July 2022

Sylke Steggerda, neonatologist with an expertise in the neonatal brain and part of the Twinlife research team, has received 25.000 euros from the C.J. Vaillant fund.


Thanks to this contribution, we can use MRI to investigate the changes in brain development after growth retardation in future Twinlife twins. We hope to learn more about the consequences of early growth retardation in the womb for the development of the brain and the later developmental outcome of these children. Many thanks to the National Crematoria Association and the C.J. Vaillant Fund for awarding us this grant. 

Young Researcher award for Sophie Groene
June 2022

In May 2022, Sophie Groene was nominated for the Young Researcher Award of the Dutch Association for Pediatrics (NvK). In June 2022 she presented her research at the national NvK congress and took home the audience award with 40% of the votes.

The Twinrun 2022 - October 8-9
May 2022

The Twin Run is back! Who can forget Mart's epic journey to raise awareness for twin complications? Despite injuries and disappointments, he raised 11.000 euros for twin research. 

This year we are taking an global approach. Wear red and white, set a challenge for yourself and help us raise money to continue twin research!  You can find more about this fantastic initiative at

Bas Heijmans in the Quest
April 2022

Bas Heijmans was allowed to devise an impossible research for the magazine 'Quest'. He would prefer to travel with a  rocket to the cell nuclei of monochorionic twins in the womb, in order to get a better look at their DNA. Here, he can experience live how epigenetic changes may occur. Read more about his dream here .

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Jip Spekman started as a new Twinlife researcher
January 2022

In January 2022 a brand new Twinlife researcher started: Jip Spekman. During her medical studies she became involved in the Twinlife study. This further fueled her enthusiasm and she is now responsible for organizing the follow-up appointments at the age of two within and she will continue to take over from Sophie in the near future. 


Congress prizes for Sophie Groene
November 2021-June 2022

In November 2021, researcher Sophie Groene won two prizes at the International Society for Twin Studies (ISTS) conference for her research in selective growth restriction in monochorionic twins. She won one of these prizes for her presentation on the LEMON study. 

In June 2022 she also won a prize for her presentation on the first results of the LEMON study at the European Congress of Perinatal Medicine (ECPM) in Lisbon.


The Twin Run 2021
October 2021

Last October 8-10, the Twinrun took place, in which Mart Smit, father of identical twins born at the LUMC, collected more than €10.000 for twin research by traveling 150 kilometers past the three hospitals where his sons were helped. More than 40 LUMC employees from the Obstetrics and Pediatrics departments assisted him. You can find more about this fantastic initiative at


ESPR grant for MRI research
September 2021

Sophie Groene has received the European Society for Pediatric Research (ESPR) Young Investigator grant for MRI research in monochorionic twins with a growth difference at birth. With  this grant we can use MRI to examine changes in brain development after growth retardation in future Twinlife twins, in order to learn more about the consequences of growth retardation for the brain.

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Start of Twinlife 
25 January 2019

In January 2019 we have officially started approaching parents to participate in Twinlife. We strive to include one hundred twin pairs


Start of Twinlife 
25 January 2019

In January 2019 we have officially started approaching parents to participate in Twinlife. We strive to include one hundred twin pairs

Start of Twinlife 
25 January 2019

In January 2019 we have officially started approaching parents to participate in Twinlife. We strive to include one hundred twin pairs

250.000 euros for growth research in Twinlife-twins
30 September 2019

LUMC-researchers Dr. Bas Heijmans and Dr. Christiaan de Bruin have received the Grant for Growth Innovation for growth research in Twinlife-twins. They accepted the grant of 250.000 euros on the 20th of September during a special session of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology congress in Vienna. Heijmans and De Bruin want to understand why some twins experience catch up growth after their growth retardation in the womb, and why other twins do not.

Searching for epigenetic differences

The growth retardation arises due to the fact that identical twin often have to share one placenta, but do not share this placenta equally. The twin that is dependent on the smaller share, receives less nutrients and stays smaller. "We know from our Hunger Winter research that malnutrition in the womb can lead to persistent changes in the regulation of the growth genes in the DNA", says project leader Heijmans. "Using our latest techniques, we will try to find those epigenetic differences in twins that share a placenta. We expect to find specific epigenetic changes that determine effective catch up growth in the early childhood."

Goal: better care for children with growth retardation

It is still unknown which processes determine the catch up growth of a twin. That is also the case for a much larger group of singletons with a persistent growth retardation in the early years of life. But because identical twins are genetically identical and therefore each other's perfect control, it is possible to try to uncover what these processes are in this special group of patients.

"I see children with severe growth retardation on a weekly basis. Sometimes we know which genetic factor is responsible, but more often we do not know the exact cause. This new research can change this, so we can finally offer this group of children better care.", thus pediatric endocrinologist De Bruin of the Willem-Alexander Kinderziekenhuis.

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Photo by Joshua Kloet

How does your DNA change by what your mother ate?
30 May 2019

Why does one person get fat after eating fried food once, while another can eat as much as they want without gaining weight? They probably owe this to their good genes. But did you know that your environment can also influence your DNA? Epigeneticist Bas Heijmans (Leiden University) investigates the Dutch Hunger Winter and how the DNA of children conceived during this famine has been adjusted and how this can lead to obesity. 

Heijmans talks about his research in his lecture on Thursday May 30th at 'Universiteit van Nederland'.

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Start of Twinlife 
25 January 2019

In January 2019 we have officially started approaching parents to participate in Twinlife. We strive to include one hundred twin pairs


Extra care for babies' hearts after a difficult start. 

Premature and low birth weight babies more often develop cardiovascular disease later in life. So, a 'bad' start can increase your risk of heart disease. Dr. Bas Heijmans performs research within this field and is committed to providing good care for children at risk. 

Click here to read more.

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