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Births of twins up dramatically since 1980
January 5th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

Births of twins up dramatically since 1980

In 1980, one in every 53 babies born in the United States was a twin. By 2009, that number had risen to one in 30, according to a new brief released by the National Center for Health Statistics. Over the three decades, the twin birth rate (number of twins per 1,000 births) rose 76%.

"It's quite remarkable that the rate has increased as much as it has over this time period," says co-author Joyce Martin, an epidemiologist with the CDC who has studied trends in twins and triplets for decades.

Twin birth rates rose by at least 50% in 43 states and the District of Columbia, and by more than 100% in five: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The largest increase occurred among non-Hispanic white mothers.

About one-third of the twin birth rate can be explained by an increase in older women having children, according to the brief. Women in their 30s and 40s are naturally more likely to have twins than younger mothers, Martin says. She and her colleagues attribute the rest of the overall increase - nearly two thirds– to the rise of infertility treatments.

Basically, Martin says, "the increase has been pretty widespread. Twins have increased for most age groups and all across the country, across race groups."

Twin births still only make up about 3% of all births, but the increase has some experts concerned.

The study of multiple births is important, the brief notes, because of their elevated health risks and health care costs. Twins are more likely to be born earlier in pregnancy and be smaller than single babies - 1 in 10 twins born between 1980 and 2009 had very low birth weights. More than half are born prematurely, Martin says, and moms of twins and their infants are more likely to be hospitalized longer.


soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. JenLaw

    Yeah, us "old hags" are having multiples. I had twins at 36, my sister had triplets at 36 – and no fertility drugs. No, it does not run in our family at all. No NICU and they are extremely healthy and normal, and I had them "naturally". No, we didn't do any of those intrusive tests, either and our kids are all just about perfect. Take that, nay sayers.

    January 6, 2012 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sat

      Congrats!! Twins would be so fun. My friend has girl/girl twins and they are simply amazing.

      January 8, 2012 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
    • Shawna

      Wow, congratulations to both you and your sister! That's awesome, and even better that they're all healthy. Must make for fun family get-togethers.

      January 11, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • Oakspar

      You had natural twins and your sister had natural triplets and you claim it does not run in your family. Think about that statement for awhile. How many siblings would you need to have in your family spawning multiples before you would agree that it "ran in your family"? If you have a second younger sister, I am willing to bet she thinks it runs in your family.

      Oh, and 36 is old when your body has been sincerely trying to have kids since for over 20 years.

      January 27, 2012 at 08:39 | Report abuse |
    • Lily Doka

      I had identical twins at age 27.It's does not run in my family but now they are 5 yrs but not talking.Autism specialist rule out autism so they re undiagnosed.Physically okay but developmental delay.When I had them they were okay decharged from hospital after 4 days.What make matter worse is in our family we had no history of such records.

      March 13, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  2. Pgibson

    it's part of the mutation taking place, you know, the slimy sub-species known as feminists who take fertility drugs at forty, takes her frozen eggs, just like nature intended, and kypes some hapless dude's spermatazoa and whammo – MUTANT KIDS !!

    Reminding you that feminism just ain't natural, but by a an apparent genetic mutation have decided that all female and fertility drugs is the was their sub-species will propagate without actual males.

    There was a story recently about scientists being able to reproduce synthetic sperm in RATS. A humbel beginning of the Feminist subspecies, yes, and somehow related to RODENTS.

    Ewww.

    Need I say more ?

    January 6, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • meme

      You are an aggressive ignorant fool. Please do not breed.

      January 7, 2012 at 02:54 | Report abuse |
    • Gia

      If you have kids I really think they must be retarded hence your frustration with this article.

      January 7, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • WOW

      LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      January 8, 2012 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
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    January 6, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. anon

    Of course, this article is incomplete, therefore somewhat inaccurate. The rate of FRATERNAL twins has increased. The rate of identical twins has not. That is implicit in how the two come about. They don't really know why identical twins happen, and the rate of identical twinning has remained constant over time, geography, income levels, age, etc. Fraternal twins are hereditary, identical twins are not. The ability of a female to release more than one egg per month is the inheritable trait-that is, of course, what is mimicked in fertility treatments – drug induced "super-ovulation" leads to multiple eggs being released, increasing the chance of more than one egg being fertilized and implanting – leading to twins, triplets, etc. In Vitro procedures cause production of many eggs that are harvested, fertilized outside of the body, and then USUALLY only 1 or 2 are placed back in the uterus. Reputable IVF clinics will follow these guidelines set forth by the academic academy of assistive reproduction. In the situations where 2 embryos are placed, you will get twins – and in rare cases of spontaneous twinning during in vitro you may have more. Non-reputable IVF clinics can result in an "Octomom" situation, which is, of course, deplorable. So, yes – the rate of "twins" has increased – but not all twinning has increased.

    January 6, 2012 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy Daly

      Yes! The rate of identical twin births has remained stable while the rate of fraternal twin births has risen dramatically. I wish the news media would be more accurate in delineating between the two.

      January 7, 2012 at 20:15 | Report abuse |
    • MrKnowItAll

      Did YOU type that word for word from the "talking points memo" or did you puke it back out with ease after hearing it over and over from the medical profession. The reason for twinning is well known in the reproductive profession, just as the cases in certain species of animals. These articles are intended to establish a thought process that will be considered "normal" and widely accepted in a few years. The same process is well into effect with Autism!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
  5. Nichole

    I have b/b identical twins myself. Completely naturally, no fertility treatments. Oh yes and I was 23 when I had them. Not 35. They were born 4 weeks early, but were of a healthy birth weight at 5lbs. 9oz and 5lbs. 7oz. Had them naturally, and the 3 of us required no extra time in the hospital or any special care.

    January 8, 2012 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. desmith

    1 ovary, no drugs, b/b identicals, age 29, 7 wks premature...statistics only tell the story going backward not forward.

    January 8, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kathy Stumm-Bogale Calgary Alberta

    How much fun it would be to have twins double the work but also double the fun!

    January 22, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Mom Of Twins

    Count me in!

    January 27, 2012 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mom Of Twins

      Full term, one was 7 lbs 10oz he other 7 lbs 2oz.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:04 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.