A comparison of early family life events amongst monozygotic twin women with lifetime anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or major depression




To investigate the differential profile of early family life events associated with lifetime anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and major depression (MD).


Only data from the monozygotic twins (n = 622) were examined from a community sample of female twins who had participated in three waves of data collection. Eating disorder and MD diagnoses were ascertained from the Eating Disorder Examination at Wave 3 and interview at Wave 2 respectively. Early family events were ascertained from self-report measures at Waves 1 and 3. Two case control designs were used, including a comparison of women: (1) who had lifetime AN, BN, MD, and controls, and (2) twin pairs discordant for either AN, BN, or MD (where the unaffected cotwin formed the control group).


Across the two types of designs, compared to controls, both AN and BN were associated with more comments from the family about weight and shape when growing up. AN was uniquely associated with higher levels of paternal protection while BN was associated with higher levels of parental expectations.


While some overlap among early life events was indicated, especially related to parental conflict and criticism, there was evidence to support some degree of nonoverlap among life events associated with AN, BN, and MD. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2007