Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cool facts about identical twins

Check this out.
These are some cool facts about identical twins posted on Nursing Schools. The site is designed for those who want to become nurses, but the blog is one of the most useful, entertaining and easy-to-read medical blogs I've seen yet.
I have reduced the list of 20 facts compiled by blogger Kitty Holman to just those that pertain to identical twins.
Thanks to reader Ken Martin, who works for Nursing Schools for sharing.

1. While most people are only familiar with identical and fraternal twins, there are actually 7 different types of twins. They are: identical, fraternal, half-identical, mirror image twins, mixed chromosome twins, superfecundation, and superfetation. Those other than identical and fraternal can be quite rare.

2. Twins do not have to be born on the same date. In fact, they can be born surprisingly far apart. The longest recorded gap between twin births is 85 days. How does this happen? The simplest explanation comes when one twin is born just before midnight and the other after. In cases where there is a longer gap, it's often because one twin is born early due to complications, while the other is left in the womb to further develop. This is much safer for the second baby and can help improve survival rates.

3. Identical twins have different fingerprints. Some people might think that identical twins are the same right down to those whorls and swirls on their fingerprints, but while identical twins share most of their genetic material, identical fingerprints aren't among them. While the fingerprints may be very similar, on close examination it is possible to tell them apart – much like the twins themselves.

4. About 25% of identical twins are called mirror image twins. This means that they are, in fact, identical, but only in the way that your reflection in a mirror is an identical image of you. For example, if one twin has a mole under her right eye, the other will have it under her left eye. Scientists think this is due to the fertilized egg splitting later than the norm for identical twins, around nine to twelve days after fertilization.

5. Identical twins have almost identical brainwave patterns. The notion that twins think alike just might be true. Research on identical twins shows that they have almost perfectly matching brainwave patterns. Some think this could explain twins' abilities to know what the other is thinking and feeling.

6. Twins can celebrate their twinning in Twinsburg, Ohio. (Blogger's note: the 2011 Twins Days festival is scheduled for Aug. 5,6 and 7.) If you or your children are twins, you can head to this city in Ohio to celebrate the Twins Days festival. You'll be amid a sea of look-alikes, with twins, triplets and multiples from all over the nation converging on this town to celebrate being a twin.

7. Twins often develop their own language. This phenomena is called idioglossia. It's something that has fascinated people about twins for years, but it's really a relatively simple and easily understandable process. It happens when one twin models the disordered or incorrect speech of the other, leading to both twins using the same grammatical or speech sound errors. It sounds like a foreign language, but is really just a normal part of cognitive development.

8. Identical twins can be of different sexes. It might sound strange to stay that identical twins can be different when it comes to gender, but technically speaking it is possible. It happens when the egg splitting process doesn't happen quite as it should, resulting in twins that display genetic abnormalities like Klinefelter's syndrome. This means one twin might have the right correlation of XX or XY while the other has XXY.

9. Twins share DNA, but it is not identical. While identical twins come from the same sperm and egg, their DNA isn't necessarily identical, according to new research. Scientists used to think differences in twins were due to environmental factors; they now know that isn't the only force causing variations. Genetic studies have demonstrated that there are certain points where twins will veer away from one another, with one carrying different or multiple copies of the same gene.

10. Fraternal twinning is genetically predisposed. Identical twinning is random. (Blogger's note: recent studies suggest that an inherited enzyme in the sperm combined with a genetic weakness in the egg is responsible for identical twinning.) Fraternal twinning is the result of a woman releasing multiple eggs at the same time, and is largely the result of a genetic predisposition to release this extras. Identical twins, however, are the result of a random split of a single egg, something which cannot be genetically predisposed. In recent years, the number of fraternal twins has risen in response to fertility treatments, while the number of identical twin births has stayed the same.

11. Twenty-seven pounds and 12 ounces is the heaviest combined birth weight of any set of twins. If you think it would be rough to carry around and deliver one 14-pound baby, then imagine doing it with two. That's just what happened in this case, the largest twin birth on record. Of course, it doesn't hold a candle to the largest singleton birth weight of 23 pounds.

12. Twins separated at birth and reunited are often found to be eerily similar in personality and interests. The studies that discovered this fact, however, have widely been condemned as some of the cruelest and morally repugnant in medical history. During the 60's and 70's, identical twins were separated at birth in an attempt to determine whether it was nature or nurture that determined their personalities. However unethical, the study demonstrated that a great deal of who we are comes from our genes; many of the twins bore uncanny similarities in personality and preferences despite spending decades apart.

13. The incidence of twin types and genders are oddly symmetrical. These facts about twinning are sure to leave you in awe. One third of all twins born are identical, one third are same sex fraternal and one third are male/female fraternal. Of the identical twins, half are male/male and half are female/female. Of the same sex fraternal, half are male/male and half are female/female.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four is enough

I was unloading groceries from the van yesterday when I spied a couple at a neighbor's BBQ with infant twins. They waved. I waved. We started talking, so I crossed the street to take a peek.
They were identical boys.
Seven weeks old.
I wait.
And waited.
And waited.
But the pang never came.
The pang that alluded me had come frequently and unsolicited as our older two children started growing up. It would start to form when I would see a mom with an infant. The "ooo"s and "awe"s would slip from my throat as I remembered how soft and delicate my children were at that age. How innocent and unaffected they were by the greater world.
How they fit so perfectly in the cradle of my arm.
Not so since the twins were born.
These babies were adorable, so that wasn't the issue.
They were even identical, just like my boys.
They were clean and sweet and sleeping peacefully.
Still, no pang.
Matthew and Jonathan have wiped the pang right out of me.
And I don't think that's a bad thing.
I adore my boys just as much as I adore my other two children.
I savored and continue to savor each stage of their development, just as I do with the other two.
But there is not a single part of me that would want to go through infancy or toddlerhood with highly active, strong, curious, creative identical twin boys ever again. Not even with a singleton. I can't even conjure up a daydream.
So when I looked at those boys, I struggled.
The "ooo"s and "awe"s that parents come to expect just weren't there, and all hope of ever recapturing them was dashed when I learned that the couple had two older children. Instead, I was flooded with memories of fear. Fear that I would not have enough love or attention for four children, especially when two were infants. Unfounded fears.
Definitely unfounded.
The words that came out of my mouth instead were words of encouragement, which led to questions from the parents, which led to more words of encouragement. When the natural time came to end the conversation and go our separate ways, I wasn't sure what to expect.
So I was surprised when they said, "Thank you."
"It's so nice," the mom said, "to finally meet someone who understands."
And for me, it was so nice to be understood.