When I was a kid, coming across twins was a rare thing. I had one pair in my grammar school class and I knew one more set from dance class. But today, I feel like I’ve been seeing twin children and hearing about twin babies being born far more often than in the past. My nine- and six-year-old nieces, for example, each have more than one pair of twins in their classes. Is this just a coincidence, or are more twins being born?
Apparently, it’s not just in my head. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), one in every 30 babies born in 2009 was a twin, as compared to 1 in every 53 babies in 1980. That’s an increase of 76 percent in the number of twins born in the past three decades.
What’s behind all of these twins being born? Of course, the rise in the number of women using fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization plays a major part in more twins – as well as multiples of every kind – being born. But, fertility treatments can only cause identical multiples to be born, not fraternal, which are the result of two separate eggs being fertilized at the same time.
So, while the rise in popularity of fertility treatments is responsible for about two-thirds of the increase in twin births, the other factor is the rising maternal age. According to the NCHS, twin birth rates rose by nearly 100 percent among women aged 35–39 and more than 200 percent among women aged 40 and over. With women waiting until later in life to begin having children, the result has been an increase in the number of fraternal twins. This is because a woman’s ovaries are more likely to produce more than one egg per menstrual cycle with age.
While the increase in twins means more adorable matching outfits, it also means more babies are being born with a low birth weight, putting them at risk for serious health problems. Women who are pregnant with twins or other multiples need to see the doctor more often and be much more cautious than women who are pregnant with a single baby.
Have you noticed the increase in the number of twins being born? Tell us what you think about it below.
Sources: drweil.com and cdc.gov