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iLabs: Twins & Allergies

September 18, 2013

We had a visitor pose a very good question today in our lab.  She and her child were doing the table activity to determine which of two twins has a peanut allergy.  Her question to us was:

Would identical twins both have the peanut allergy since they share the same DNA?

For certain, fraternal twins, who develop from two different eggs, have different DNA and hence there is a good chance they do not have the same allergies. However, given that allergies have a strong genetic component, it seemed entirely likely that identical twins would share the same allergies.

A quick search of some articles showed that the answer is not as clear-cut as that though.

An article in the New York Times Science column, Twins and Allergies, as well as an article in ScienceDaily’s Science News column, Identical Twins Not As Identical As Believed both dealt with this topic.

While there could be up to an 85% possibility that identical twins shared the same allergies, there was a 15-18% chance that they did not.  One thing that also affects the development of allergies is one’s personal exposure to an allergen. One twin might not have been exposed to something while the other was, or the degree of exposure was different in each. Also, even when both twins have the same allergy, they might not show the same symptoms.

So to answer our visitor, while the likelihood is very high that identical twins may have the same allergies, apparently there are some instances where this might not be the case.  For all of our readers, if this question comes up in your own family, do consult your child’s pediatrician or an allergist.  Do not assume.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2013 6:52 am

    Reblogged this on The Odd Spot and commented:
    Had to reblog these findings of allergies in twins! Very interesting results!

  2. September 23, 2013 7:57 am

    Reblogged this on Itch, swell, ooze and wheeze and commented:
    Love this, just the kind of thing I idly think about when I should be sleeping!

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