When investigating disease etiology, twin data provide a unique opportunity to control for confounding and disentangling the role of the human genome and exposome. However, using appropriate statistical methods is fundamental for exploiting such potential. We aimed to critically review the statistical approaches used in twin studies relating exposure to early life health conditions. We searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase (2011-2021). We identified 32 studies and nine classes of methods. Five were conditional approaches (within-pair analyses): additive-common-erratic (ACE) models (11 studies), generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs, five studies), generalized linear models (GLMs) with fixed pair effects (four studies), within-pair difference analyses (three studies), and paired-sample tests (two studies). Four were marginal approaches (unpaired analyses): generalized estimating equations (GEE) models (five studies), GLMs with cluster-robust standard errors (six studies), GLMs (one study), and independent-sample tests (one study). ACE models are suitable for assessing heritability but require adaptations for binary outcomes and repeated measurements. Conditional models can adjust by design for shared confounders, and GLMMs are suitable for repeated measurements. Marginal models may lead to invalid inference. By highlighting the strengths and limitations of commonly applied statistical methods, this review may be helpful for researchers using twin designs.

A Critical Review of Statistical Methods for Twin Studies Relating Exposure to Early Life Health Conditions

Giuliana Ferrante;
2021

Abstract

When investigating disease etiology, twin data provide a unique opportunity to control for confounding and disentangling the role of the human genome and exposome. However, using appropriate statistical methods is fundamental for exploiting such potential. We aimed to critically review the statistical approaches used in twin studies relating exposure to early life health conditions. We searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase (2011-2021). We identified 32 studies and nine classes of methods. Five were conditional approaches (within-pair analyses): additive-common-erratic (ACE) models (11 studies), generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs, five studies), generalized linear models (GLMs) with fixed pair effects (four studies), within-pair difference analyses (three studies), and paired-sample tests (two studies). Four were marginal approaches (unpaired analyses): generalized estimating equations (GEE) models (five studies), GLMs with cluster-robust standard errors (six studies), GLMs (one study), and independent-sample tests (one study). ACE models are suitable for assessing heritability but require adaptations for binary outcomes and repeated measurements. Conditional models can adjust by design for shared confounders, and GLMMs are suitable for repeated measurements. Marginal models may lead to invalid inference. By highlighting the strengths and limitations of commonly applied statistical methods, this review may be helpful for researchers using twin designs.
children, exposome, genome, health, statistical methods, twin data
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1054717
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