The Twinlife study
Children who have had a hard time in the womb can often have health problems later in life. A well-known example is that of the people who experienced the Hunger Winter at the end of the Second World War before they were born. Because of the malnutrition in the womb, they now more often have obesity, diabetes, and poor blood vessels.
If twins have to share a placenta, it is often unevenly distributed. In that case, one of the children receives less nutrients and falls behind in growth. Also, one child can lose blood to the other if blood vessels in the placenta are connected to each other.
That is why we believe it is important to investigate whether the child who received less nutrients in the womb is less healthy later in life and if so, how this is caused. That is what we plan to do in the LUMC's Twinlife study.
We think that the lack of nutrients can cause changes in the way DNA activity is regulated. This different regulation can lead to delayed development and weaker blood vessels. We want to measure this adjustment in the regulation of the DNA in special cells from the umbilical cord and the umbilical cord blood of your twins. Because the DNA of identical twins is exactly the same, we can accurately measure differences in DNA regulation. This way, we can try to understand health differences between your twins. If we can use this research to discover which children are more vulnerable and why, we will be able to recognize them earlier and try to eliminate the increased risk of health problems in the future.