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About the study

You are invited to participate in a research study that will investigate the genetic factors that influence the development of non-identical, or dizygotic, twins. Specifically, our study is trying to find genes for non-identical twinning so that we can better understand the genetic components involved in having twins and learn more about female fertility and infertility.

Take the survey

Who is running the study?

Researchers at the University of Otago, Christchurch, are running the New Zealand arm of a study developed by Professor Nick Martin’s team at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (Brisbane, Australia). The New Zealand-based research team is led by Professor Martin Kennedy and Dr Emma Vlasiuk in the Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science, University of Otago, Christchurch.

What difference can I make by participating?

Genetic studies often require years of dedicated research, and rely heavily on the availability of accurate data. Volunteers like you are of crucial importance to help uncover more information about why some women are more likely to have twins than others, which will help us to also pinpoint genes relating to female fertility and infertility.

What does the survey involve?

If you choose to participate, we will ask you to fill in a short questionnaire (online, or via mail) and may ask you to supply us with a sample of saliva which we will use to extract your DNA. A caregiver or support person may help you complete the questionnaire if you feel you are not able.

I am ready to participate - what next?

  1. Register and complete a survey
  2. If eligible, we mail a collection kit to your nominated address
  3. You provide a saliva sample yourself in your own home
  4. Post the kit back to our laboratory in Christchurch using a pre-paid courier bag

Take the survey

If you wish not to participate online you can also contact us to arrange a time to complete the questionnaire over a call, or to have a paper questionnaire sent to you by mail.

Contact us

You may find that your query is listed on our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

If you have any further general queries about the Genetics of Non-Identical Twinning study, please see our contact details below:

Tel: +64 3 364 0590

Frequently asked questions

Who can participate in the Genetics of Dizygotic Twinning study?

Volunteers must be:

  • Female
  • A mother of non-identical (dizygotic, or DZ) twins
  • Aged 18 or over

Why should I participate in the Genetics of Dizygotic Twinning study?

We want to find genes for non-identical twinning, so we can understand why some women have non-identical twins, and others do not. To find genes, research studies need a large number of participants, so we would like to collect information from as many people in New Zealand as we can.

Can I participate in the Genetics of Dizygotic Twinning study if I am living overseas?

Unfortunately, at this stage, we are unable to collect DNA samples from people living outside of New Zealand. If you are in Australia and wish to participate, please click here.

Will I get paid for participating in the Genetics of Dizygotic Twinning study?

Participants in the Genetics of Non-Identical Twinning study will not be paid. However, those who choose to volunteer will be contributing to an effort to unravel the genetics of non-identical twinning, and we may as a result learn more about the genetics of twins and female fertility. Your participation is important to enable scientists to understand the genetic mechanisms of twinning.

What does the Genetics of Dizygotic Twinning study involve?

Volunteers must be able to:

  • Read and understand the Participant information sheet
  • Provide contact information
  • Provide consent for the collection of data for study purposes
  • Complete a 5-10-minute online survey about your twins and other pregnancies

What happens after I take the survey?

After completing the survey, you may be asked to donate a saliva sample, from which researchers can extract their DNA to identify specific genes associated with non-identical twinning. Researchers will send a saliva collection kit together with a pre-paid return courier bag to selected participants.

Is the information I give you kept confidential?

Study participation is strictly confidential.

How will you use the survey, biological and genetic information I give you?

Your saliva sample will be sent to QIMR Berghofer to extract DNA. Your personal details, questionnaire data, biological sample and genetic information will all be stored in separate, firewalled, password-protected databases, and the only link between your personal details and your other data is your participant identification number. Linking your personal details and the other datasets using this number is restricted to authorised members of the New Zealand research team.

Where will DNA data be stored?

Participant DNA data will be stored at QIMR Berghofer (Brisbane, Australia), and at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Your DNA may be sent to a service provider elsewhere in the world for gene array analysis. This would strictly be a service contract, and no personal data will be shared with the provider.

Can I access my genetic data?

This research is not designed to provide any clinical results to participants. The study does not undertake individual analysis of each sample provided, but rather will undertake an overall comparison of genetic markers on all samples provided.

If you have a personal interest in obtaining a genetic test on your DNA, we suggest you consider contacting a genetic testing entity which can provide such testing.

Your participation is important to enable scientists to understand the mechanisms of twinning.

Will the saliva sample tell you about my ancestry or health?

The analysis we conduct on a participant’s saliva sample will not tell us the individual participants’ health status, ancestry or predict health outcomes. Researchers are not looking for these particular genes in their analysis, rather they are searching for groups of common genes involved in non-identical twinning from a large group of people.

Can I read the participant information sheet before I agree to take part?

A copy of the participant information sheet can be found here.

I am having trouble producing a saliva sample

Please note that any volume is useful, even with bubbles.

If you are still unable to produce a sample, take a teaspoon of water, vigorously swish it around in your mouth and add that to the tube.

Even if your saliva sample is discoloured in the tube (e.g., lipstick or food scraps or blood), there is still plenty of your DNA in the tube for us to extract and use. Please return it to us and if we need you to provide another sample we will be in contact.

I don't have a copy of the saliva sample collection instructions

Please find instructions on how to provide a saliva sample into the tube here.

Who has approved the study?

This study has been approved by an independent group of people called a Health and Disability Ethics Committee (HDEC), who check that studies meet established ethical standards. The Central Health and Disability Ethics Committee have approved this study - Ethics reference: 2022 EXP 12825.

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