The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) focuses on the early development of the three most common psychological problems in childhood: communication disorders, mild mental impairment and behavior problems. The TEDS twins were assessed longitudinally at 2, 3, 4 and 7 years of age in order to investigate genetic and environmental contributions to change and continuity in language and cognitive development; it is multivariate in order to examine the origins of comorbidity; and it uses a large sample in order to study abnormal development in the context of normal development. The twins were identified from birth records of twins born in the UK in 1994–96. More than 15,000 pairs of twins have been enrolled in TEDS and the participating families are representative of the UK. The measures at 2, 3 and 4 years are administered by parents. At 7 years, children are assessed for language and cognitive development using telephone testing, parents and children are interviewed about behavior problems, and teachers also assess behavior problems as well as academic achievement. One set of findings is that the same genes largely contribute to both language and cognitive problems and the same genes affect normal and abnormal development, a result that suggests that general impairment may be a better target for genetic research than specific language impairment independent of nonverbal cognitive problems. DNA has been obtained so far for more than 4000 pairs and is being used initially in molecular genetic studies of language problems and hyperactivity.
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