Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Chapter 9: Clues to a “vanishing” twin pregnancy

Even though a “vanishing” twin pregnancy can be symptom-free, there may be some other signs to indicate the existence of a lost twin and this chapter will explore what those may be.  Such associated factors as there are may be elusive and vague, none of them adding up to very much, so they cannot be described as “proof” of a lost twin.  The strange, deep feeling of “having once had a twin,” which is experienced by so many womb twin survivors, would seem at first to have no basis in fact.  It may be dismissed as a “mere fantasy” by those who do not understand.  Even so, do not despair if you have no proof, for there is still more to discover as we search for clues. 
    If you are a womb twin survivor and your mother is unwilling or unable to discuss this with you, the important details of her pregnancy with you may be lost to history.  Medical records may be sketchy or missing and family members may not remember anything.  If you were adopted, you have no chance of ever knowing what it was like for your birth mother during her pregnancy with you, unless of course you are able to meet her again.

Twins in the family
If there are twins among your blood relations, then perhaps you were once a twin also.  But were you a dizygotic (DZ) twin or a monozygotic (MZ) twin?

Dizygotic (DZ) twins
It has been assumed for a long time that DZ twins run in families, for there is a strong genetic basis to this kind of twinning.  The exact reason has never been clearly identified but it is probably an inherited tendency to hyper-ovulate (that is, to produce more than one egg per month.)  
    It is also possible that the environment, in particular the everyday diet, may have an effect.  As we have seen, the people of the Yoruba tribe of South Western Nigeria, for example, are the twinning champions of the world.  They eat white yams several times a day.  According to a student at Yale, the white yam is rich in a biochemical substance that seems to be linked to hyper-ovulation.  He fed white yams to rats in the laboratory and the size of their litters soon doubled.  Meanwhile, in Japan they eat no yams at all but rather eat soya beans in various forms, several times a day.  Many people believe that soya can adversely affect fertility.  Perhaps as a consequence, in Japan DZ twinning was extremely rare until the advent of ART.  
    ART has greatly increased the twinning rate. In 1998 the number of DZ twins being born, mainly as a result of ART, was considered to be at epidemic levels.  If you were conceived with the help of ART, or if there are fraternal twins in your family, this could be valuable evidence.

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  1. I'm a twin, but was once suppoused to be a Triplet. I guess the triplet was lost early in the pregnancy and my mom thought it was like normal bleeding or something. And then like when she went to the doctor there was like a little spot where the triplet shoulda been, but was like just empty. So i'm not sure if this retains to that, but i just thought i'd let you know. (plus i'm sorry if this isn't to detailed, i'm only 16 and i've never been given much of a converstaion about this before.)

  2. That is so interesting, thank you! I am sure that many pairs of twins are also womb triplet survivors, or even womb quadruplet survivors! Its common for one or more little embryos to fade away and die after just a few weeks. What does your twin say about the missing triplet that you both share? Is your twin a sister or a brother? I have wondered about this a lot, so thanks for your comment.

    Do email me privately if you would prefer, there is a contact form on this site.