Study by LIJ obstetrician confirms taller women are more likely to have twins

September 22, 2006

NEW HYDE PARK, NY -- An obstetrician who specializes in multiple-birth pregnancies has confirmed that taller women are more likely to have twins. The suspected culprit is insulin-like growth factor, which has been positively linked to both height and twinning. By comparing the heights of women who had given birth to twins or triplets with the average height of women in the United States, Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, an attending physician at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center, found that the multiple-birth mothers averaged more than an inch taller. The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

"Any circumstance that affects the amount of available insulin-like growth factor so as to modify the sensitivity of the ovary to follicle-stimulating hormone appears to govern the rate of spontaneous twinning," said Dr. Steinman.

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) is a protein that is released from the liver in response to growth hormone. It increases the sensitivity of the ovaries to follicle stimulating hormone, thereby increasing ovulation. Some studies also suggest that IGF may help embryos survive in the early stages of development.

Among its many effects in the body, IGF stimulates cells in the shaft of long bones to grow. Previous studies have demonstrated that people with short stature have significantly lower levels of IGF. Countries with taller women have higher rates of twinning compared to countries with shorter women.

In the current study, Dr. Steinman compared the heights of 129 women who gave birth to identical or fraternal twins or triplets -- 105 had twins and 24 had triplets -- with the average height of women in the United States, as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics. The multiple-birth mothers averaged 5 feet 5 inches tall, more than an inch taller than the U.S. average for adult females of about 5 feet 3 ¾ inches. While the effect of IGF on the ovaries likely involves fraternal, or dizygotic, twins, they were not distinguished from identical, or monozygotic, pregnancies in this study. Dizygotic twin pregnancies account for about two-thirds to three-quarters of all spontaneous multiple pregnancies in a random population, therefore the results of this study predominantly, but not exclusively, represent fraternal twins.

In the previous study in his series on the mechanisms of twinning, Dr. Steinman found that women who consume animal products, specifically dairy, are five times more likely to have twins. Cows, like humans, produce IGF in response to growth hormone and release it into the blood, and the IGF makes its way into their milk.

Dr. Steinman has been invited to speak next month about IGF and twinning at the three-day workshop "Milk, Hormones and Human Health." The meeting, to be held in Boston from Oct. 23-25, is sponsored by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health and the McGill University Centre for Cancer Prevention.
-end-


Northwell Health

Related Growth Hormone Articles from Brightsurf:

Growth hormone plays key role in early puberty, breast cancer risk
Girls who enter puberty early in life--as measured by early breast development and age of first menstrual period--have a longer window of susceptibility to breast cancer.

Human growth hormone treatment after ACL injury may prevent loss of muscle strength
A new study finds the use of HGH treatment in patients that have undergone ACL reconstructive surgery may prevent the loss of muscle strength and weakness.

Liver surgery success boosted by growth hormone
Growth hormone has been identified as playing a key role in reducing inflammation and increasing survival rates following liver surgery.

Growth hormone acts to prevent weight loss
A Brazilian study shows that, like leptin, growth hormone contributes directly to energy conservation when the body loses weight.

Cost savings from growth hormone insurance strategies not passed on to patients
Increasingly aggressive insurance strategies have lowered the total costs and insurance costs of growth hormone drugs, but those savings are not being passed on to patients, according to new research to be presented Sunday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, La.

Patients bear increased financial burden for growth hormone treatment despite FDA approval
Despite an FDA approval of growth hormone treatment for children with idiopathic short stature (ISS), the mean cost burden to patients and their families has increased over time.

Growth hormone may provide new hope for stroke survivors
Less fatigue and better recovery of cognitive abilities such as learning and memory.

FASEB Science Research Conference: Growth Hormone/Prolactin
This SRC will bring together international scientists from academia and industry for lively discussions on the latest developments in the growth hormone (GH)/prolactin (PRL) family of hormones and their clinical applications.

Low thyroid hormone before birth alters growth and development of fetal pancreas
Levels of thyroid hormone in babies influences insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas, according to a new study published in The Journal of Physiology.

When should doctors treat short children and teens with growth hormone?
When is it appropriate to treat short children with growth hormone?

Read More: Growth Hormone News and Growth Hormone Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.