Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The new book Ch.10: Bodily evidence of a womb twin

Perhaps it is not possible for you to find out any information about your mother’s pregnancy.  Perhaps there was no sign, that she is aware of, that your mother was at some stage carrying twins when she was pregnant with you.  Yet this idea of womb twin survivors resonates strongly with you and you wish there was some clue, however vague and uncertain, that may substantiate your deep sense of truth about the idea.  This chapter will set out for consideration some of the more compelling associations with twinning, which by extension could concern the sole survivors of twin or multiple conceptions.  These clues are to be found in your body and in the way it is made. 

Gender
There appears to be a huge advantage in being a female foetus.  Most conjoined twins are females, which suggests that the conjoined males do not manage to survive. Of the people with evidence of their twin who completed the Womb Twin Research Project questionnaire, 80% are female.

The fragile male
We may assume that there is as much chance of a male being conceived as a female.  So, as we find an excess of females among womb twin survivors, it is probably the fact that male foetuses do not manage to survive that makes the difference.  Male babies are also more likely to be born prematurely, with all the concomitant risks, some of which are fatal. According to one report, the male embryo is more vulnerable than the female, even at conception.  From this point on, the prognosis is not good.  With gentle humour, one doctor has hinted that maleness itself could be considered a “genetic disorder.”  
The fragility of the male continues throughout life.  Men live less long than women and are more likely to die of a stroke.  The loss of male foetuses has been hard to understand.  Various studies and reports have been published to attempt to explain why the number of males being born varies so much over time and across continents.  The study of womb twin survivors suggests that, when it comes to sharing finite limited resources, the battle of the sexes can occur in the womb as much as in born life.

Women need less food
It is known that females manage on less food than males require.  If you are a woman who has ever tried a slimming diet, then you will know that men are allowed more calories, even if they weigh the same as you.  Even in times of famine and shortage of food, the women are able to carry babies to term and breast-feed them while maintaining their health and strength on a minimal diet.  Men do not seem to be made in quite the same way as women.  It has been so from the very beginning of life.

Male foetuses develop faster than female foetuses and this can be a major disadvantage in a marginal twin pregnancy.  If you are a female DZ womb twin survivor who once had a male twin, then it could be that you both shared a plentiful supply of nutrients at the start but your twin brother grew faster than you.  In those first critical weeks he took the lion’s share.  Meanwhile, you had to make do and adapt to getting less food.  It would not be long before your faster-growing, nutrient-needy twin would find available food supplies insufficient for survival.  Where the nutrient supply is marginal, it is the twin who can manage on less food who will survive and that might have been you.

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