In studies on the Finnish Twin Cohort, we investigate genetic and environmental determinants of common, complex diseases, and their behavioral risk factors in Finland, a genetically unique and culturally homogenous population. We have formed the following databases: 1) Like-sexed twin pairs (13,888 pairs of known zygosity) form the older Twin Cohort. They have participated since 1975 in mail surveys, in clinical examinations for subsamples, and have been followed-up for morbidity using national medical registers; 2) The older Twin Cohort was expanded in 1996 to include opposite-sex pairs born 1938–1957 (c. 8000 pairs); 3) Two, new longitudinal studies of adolescent twins and their families, form a complementary, ongoing study base described in more detail in an accompanying article. Genetic and environmental effects vary over the life-span, and only longitudinal studies in genetically informative data sets permits the evaluation of such effects. Finally, the inclusion of DNA-based genetic information in a phenotypically rich family data base will offer a unique resource for research in genetic epidemiology and behavioral medicine.
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