Twin Zygosity

Twin Zygosity - DNA test for twins!!

Twin Zygosity Test is a type of DNA test that helps determining with accuracy as to whether the twins are identical or fraternal.
If two offsprings are produced in the same pregnancy, then it is termed as a twin birth and the offsprings are called twins. When there is a twin birth, there are two possibilities.

They could have developed from one zygote and then splits in the early stages of the embryonic development forms two embryos - then they are called monozygotic or identical twins. In this case, they have exactly the same DNA pattern since they have emerged from the same egg and sperm combination.

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Zygosity is defined as the degree of identity in the genome of the twins. There are three common variations in a dizygotic twin births - the offsprings could either be male-female twins, female-female twins or male-male twins.
In case of monozygotic twins or identical twins female-female twin birth is a greater possibility than the male-male twin birth. While a male-female twin offsprings also could take birth, the instances are extremely rare.

If they have developed from two separate eggs that are fertilized by two different sperms, they are referred to as dizygotic or fraternal twins. In this case, the fraternal twins would have developed from two different eggs in the mother's womb and are generally fertilized by two different sperms. This results in a variation of the genetic pattern in both the offsprings. However they are likely to share some of the genetic patterns from each or both of the parents.

Twin Zygosity Test - Why is it done?

There are several reasons why one would wish to have this test done for their twin offsprings. A popular reason would be the personal curiosity of the parents, while there are other serious reasons for considering this test.

There are methods through which a physician should be able to indicate whether the twins are identical or fraternal, but these methods are not failsafe and can not be relied upon entirely for accuracy. While medical records regarding zygosity might have been lost or the variation in physical characteristics of the twins are observed, only a DNA test would be the dependable method of finding out the truth. A twin zygosity test compares the genetic patterns of the two offsprings and if they match exactly then they are identical twins, beyond doubt.

In cases where birth records are lost or are not dependable, a DNA test would be the only alternative. In some legal issues, establishing the genetic patterns might serve as evidence also.

In the event of some unforeseen health emergency, if the placentas of the twins have been damaged before determination of the zygosity, then this test would help determine their genetic patterns. This assumes a greater significance in case of other emergencies later in life, should an organ transplant be required for any of the siblings. An organ or tissue from an identical twin could be the perfect solution in such cases.

Twin Zygosity Test - How is it done?

While there are several ways to undertake this test, the most common and painless way is the collection of a buccal swab or a swab rubbed inside of the cheek. Generally the samples can be collected in a regular professional testing centre or at home depending on an instruction booklet. The loose cheek cells that adhere to the swab are then put through DNA testing.
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