Many families have been blessed with a set of twins, and a few with a set of triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets or more. What is it that increases the odds of some mothers for giving birth to twins and higher order multiples?
It has often been said that twins or triplets run in families. If there is one set of twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc., there is usually another set of multiples somewhere in the family tree. So, just what are the odds of a mother giving birth to twins or higher order multiples?
Factors That Increase Odds Multiple Births
The odds of giving birth to multiples do indeed increase if there is family history of multiple births on the mother’s side. Also if the woman has had one set of twins, there is an increased probability that she will have another set in subsequent pregnancies. There are other facts as well that increase the mother’s odds of having multiples. If a mother is African American, her chance of having fraternal twins is higher. If a woman has a tall or large body type or if the woman has had previous pregnancies, the likelihood of her having multiples increases. Lastly, though it might seem that the reverse should be true, women 35 years and older have a higher incidence of giving birth to multiples. This is because women in this age group have higher levels of a hormone called FSH or follicle stimulating hormone resulting in an occasional release of more than one egg and possibly a set of fraternal twins.
Some Multiple Birth Statistics
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that about 33.2 twins are born per 1000 live births in the United States. Higher order of multiples ( triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets) number 153.5 per 100,000 live births. In 2009, of the 4,130,665 babies born, 3,987,108 were single births; 137,217 were twins; 5,905 were triplets; 355 were quadruplets and 80 were quintuplets or higher order multiples.
Multiple Birth Rates Have Increased
Overall, since 1980 there has been a marked increase in the number of twin births and even more of an increase in triplets and higher order multiples. The reason for such a dramatic increase higher order multiples has been attributed to a couple of reasons: the increased use of fertility drugs and other assisted reproduction technologies, and the fact that more women now delay having children until they are older.
For human beings, twins are the most common type of multiple birth, followed by triplets. The odds are low for having quadruplets or higher order multiples – the more babies, the rarer the occurrence. Women who undergo fertility treatments are more likely to have multiple births. A mother’s odds of having natural multiple births are influenced by a number of factors such as heredity, family history, previous pregnancies, body type, race and age.
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Published in: Family