Twins traditionally retain a special status in many African societies. In Guinea-Bissau, twins are often well regarded yet still suffer from a very high mortality, especially in the perinatal and infant period. At the Bandim Health Project, a health and demographic surveillance site, we have recently established one of the first twin registries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our short-term aim is to describe twin mortality and morbidity in order to design appropriate health interventions. Our long-term goal is a large-scale database to explore the pathogenesis of prevalent diseases; for example, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, and infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. A major focus area is also the etiology of low birth weight and how epigenetic processes might modulate the consequences of low birth weight in Sub-Saharan Africa. For this, monozygotic twin studies represent a powerful tool. Though twin studies have been carried out by the Bandim Health Project for more than 30 years, the renewed registry described here was officially established in 2009 and includes both a cohort of newborn twins and a cohort of young and adult twins. Currently more than 1,500 twins are being followed in the two cohorts combined. We believe that the registry holds exciting possibilities and will encourage the establishment of further twin registries across the region.
Twin Research and Human Genetics, 2013, Vol 16, Issue special issue 1, p. 179-184