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   Home      Reproduction and genetics
Fact about multiple pregnancies 
21.4.2014

One of the most interesting facts recently caught our attention. According to the researches conducted last year, one out of 400 pairs of twins is bipaternal, which means they have different fathers.*

A recent study has found that insulin-like growth factor present in dairy products may increase the chance of dizygotic twinning. Specifically, the study found that vegan mothers (who exclude dairy from their diets) are one-fifth as likely to have twins as vegetarian or omnivore mothers, and concluded that "Genotypes favoring elevated IGF and diets including dairy products, especially in areas where growth hormone is given to cattle, appear to enhance the chances of multiple pregnancies due to ovarian stimulation."

From 1980 to 1997, the number of twin births in the United States rose 52%.This rise can at least partly be attributed to the increasing popularity of fertility drugs  and procedures such as IVF, which result in multiple births more frequently than unassisted fertilizations do. It may also be linked to the increase of growth hormones in food.

About 1 in 90 human births (1.1%) results from a twin pregnancy. The rate of dizygotic twinning varies greatly among ethnic groups, ranging as high as about 45 per 1000 births for the Yoruba to 10% for Linha São Pedro, a tiny Brazilian settlement which belongs to the city of Candido Goueto. A high twinning rate has also been observed in other places of the world.

The widespread use of fertility drugs causing hyperovulation (stimulated release of multiple eggs by the mother) has caused what some call an "epidemic of multiple births". In 2001, for the first time ever in the United States, the twinning rate exceeded 3% of all births. Nevertheless, the rate of monozygotic twins remains at about 1 in 333 across the globe.

*The incidence of superfecundation and of double paternity in the general population.


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