Trajectories and predictors of developmental skills in healthy twins up to 24 months
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NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Infant Behavior and Development. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Infant Behavior and Development, Vol. 36, Issue 4, (2013).
Background: Low birth weight and low 5-min Apgar scores have been associated with developmental delay, while older maternal age is a protective factor. Little is known about trajectories and predictors of developmental skills in infant twins, who are generally born with lower birth weights, lower Apgar scores and to older mothers. Methods: Developmental skills were assessed at 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months using the Ages and Stages Questionnaires in 152 twins from the Birmingham Registry for Twin and Heritability Studies. Multilevel spline and linear regression models (adjusted for gestational age, gender, maternal age) were used to estimate developmental trajectories and the associations between birth weight, maternal age and Apgar scores on developmental skills. Results: Twins performed worse than singletons on communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving and personal-social skills (p < 0.001). Twins caught up around 6 months (score within −1 standard deviation of norm), except on gross motor skills, which did not catch up until after the age of 12 months. A one-year increase in maternal age was significantly associated with decreases in gross motor and personal–social z-scores of up to −0.09, whereas one unit increases in Apgar score increased z-scores up to 0.90 (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Healthy twins should be considered at a higher risk for developmental delay. Whether these results are comparable to preterm singletons, or whether there are twin-specific issues involved, should be further investigated in a study that uses a matched singleton control group.
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