Second-trimester markers of fetal size in schizophrenia: A study of monozygotic twins

H. S. Bracha, E. F. Torrey, I. I. Gottesman, L. B. Bigelow, C. Cunniff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Objective: Since the second prenatal trimester is the critical period of massive neural cell migration to the cortex, and fingertip dermal cells migrate to form ridges during this same period, the authors sought to determine whether there are differences in fingertip ridge count in pairs of monozygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia, possibly indicating that a prenatal anatomical insult affected the twins differently. Method: The fingertip dermal ridges of 30 pairs of monozygotic twins (23 pairs in which the twins were discordant for schizophrenia and seven pairs in which both twins were normal) were counted by two persons trained in anthropometric research. Intrapair differences in the counts were then measured, and the differences among the pairs of normal twins were compared with the differences among the pairs discordant for schizophrenia. Results: The twins discordant for schizophrenia had significantly greater absolute intrapair differences in total finger ridge count and significantly greater percent intrapair differences than the normal twins; i.e., their fingerprints were significantly less 'twin-like.' Conclusions: The study suggests that various second-trimester prenatal disturbances in the epigenesis of one twin in a pair discordant for schizophrenia may be related to the fact that only one of the twins expresses his or her genetic predisposition toward schizophrenia. This is consistent with a 'two-strike' etiology of schizophrenia: a genetic diathesis plus a second-trimester environmental stressor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1361
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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