Do you know any sets of twins or have some in your family? Or maybe you have your fingers crossed that you’ll be welcoming two pairs of tiny feet rather than one.
Twins can either be identical (meaning they develop from just one zygote that splits and forms two embryos) or fraternal (meaning they develop from two different eggs fertilised by separate sperm cells).
The truth of the matter is that the number of twins born in Ireland has increased significantly in the last 20 years.
In 2012 over 1,200 twins were born. In 2002 that figure stood at 890 and a decade previously it was 602 (that is according to the Central Statistics Office website).
As for the reasons, well a lot of things affect your chances of welcoming two bundles of joy. These include…
Twins run in families – so if you are a twin or are related to a set, you are more likely to have them – however any woman can have identical twins. The genetic predisposition for twins applies to the mother’s side only. (Wouldn’t you know it’d be on the female side?!)
Believe it or not but you are more likely to have twins and triplets in your 30s and 40s. As your fertility decreases, your ovaries are more likely to release more than one egg each cycle. Another report claimed that tall women are more likely to have twins than small women.
Research conducted by physician Gary Steinman in 2006 found that your diet can affect your chances of having twins. He found that those who eat animal products (particularly dairy) are five times more likely to have twins. Anyone for cheese?
This just comes down to the odds – the more children you have, the more chance you’ll have a multiple birth. Dr Steinman also discovered that women who fall pregnant while breastfeeding are nine times more likely to conceive twins than those who are not.
These seriously boost the likelihood of a multiple birth as fertility drugs stimulate your ovaries, increasing the odds that you’ll release several eggs simultaneously. For those who undergo IVF, the chances of having more than one child are said to be between 20 and 40 per cent.