|SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center|
When You Are a Twin or Triplet
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a twin? Are you a twin and wonder why everyone thinks it's so special?
It's fascinating to think about multiple births. There are many unique and wonderful aspects to being a twin or triplet (or more)! Read on to learn more about multiple births.
You're Not Alone
If you're one of a set of twins or more, you may feel like you're pretty unique and special (and you are), but you're not as different as you may think. Believe it or not, there are an increasing number of kids who have a twin. In 2002, there were 125,134 twin babies born in the United States. Just for comparison, in 1980 there were only 69,339.
The number of triplets born in the United States also has multiplied in recent years, but has leveled off. In 2002, just about 7,000 triplet babies were born.
Types of Twins
There are two kinds of twins — fraternal and identical. The difference comes from the way the egg is fertilized when a woman becomes pregnant.
In fraternal twins, two different eggs are fertilized. With identical twins, one fertilized egg splits into two. That's why identical twins usually look almost exactly alike and share the same genes. If you have friends who are twins and you have trouble telling them apart, they are probably identical.
Fraternal twins often don't look alike and only share approximately half of the same genes — just like non-twin brothers and sisters who are born to the same parents. They can even be different sexes. Being a twin doesn't mean you have to be exactly like your sibling!
Why Am I a Twin or Triplet?
Even though the exact reason for multiple births is not known, doctors and researchers have identified several reasons why they probably happen.
Sometimes multiple births run in families. Doctors think that it's more common for a woman to have a multiple birth when one has already occurred in her family. People used to believe that multiple births skip generations (meaning that if your grandmother is a twin, your mom probably isn't, and you could be), but that is just a myth.
According to research, women who are taller, heavier, and African American are more likely to have twins. If a woman has already had fraternal twins, chances of her having another set is four times higher than for a woman who hasn't had twins.
However, the main reason why the number of multiple births is on the rise is because of fertility medicine. Some women who have trouble getting pregnant take medicine to help them conceive. These medications often increase the likelihood of multiple births (60% of triplets are conceived with the help of fertility drugs). But sometimes multiple births just happen without fertility medicine.
Troubles With Twins or Triplets
Just like other brothers and sisters, twins and triplets don't always get along. When brothers and sisters fight, it's sometimes called sibling rivalry. This is common among twins and triplets, too. In fact, being the exact same age as your sibling might make competition between you two (or three or more!) even more intense. You might have the same friends, teachers, and coaches who don't think of you as individuals.
It can be really frustrating when people constantly compare you to or always associate you with your sibling. If you are having trouble dealing with these feelings, talk to your parent or another trusted adult about it. Together, you can come up with a way to solve the problem, like maybe painting the half of the room you share a different color, getting a new haircut, or trying a new after-school activity.
Terrific Things About Twins and Triplets
Most twins and triplets have intense bonds with one another. Your twin may understand you better than anyone, and it's comforting to have someone know you so well. It can be great having someone your own age to hang out with all the time, and you're not likely to get bored when you're a twin or triplet!
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD