Two of my friend’s cousins are twins and another cousin of hers had twins just a few years ago. They run pretty strongly in her family and I’m always waiting to hear if someone else in the family is expecting the next set. In the last 30 years, the birthrate for twins rose about 70%, which is about 1 in every 30 births. That’s a big increase, and it isn’t a coincidence either.

The 70% increase is largely due to two different factors. One is that women are waiting longer to have children and fertility drugs as well as assisted reproductive technology also increase a woman’s chance of giving birth to twins or even triplets and higher multiples. However, these usually result in a set of fraternal twins, not identical twins. Identical twins are holding steady at about 1 in every 285 and that hasn’t changed in decades and is actually pretty consistent around the world, not just in the United States.

Frequently, the news that you’re expecting twins is a surprise, but some women can predict their chances before getting an ultrasound. Larger and taller women are more likely to have twins. Also, if you’re experiencing exceptionally bad morning sickness it can indicate that you’re having twins or multiples as well. Women often have twins if they have had several children before becoming pregnant with twins. This is especially likely with fraternal twins. Other than these indicators, having twins is generally a surprise and if you really want twins, there’s unfortunately not a whole lot you can do to guarantee it except cross your fingers and hope.

The downside of having twins is that there are often specific complications that are associated with giving birth and carrying twins and multiples. About 40% of all pregnancies involving twins or multiples have complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and even hemorrhaging. Also, the average term for women carrying twins and multiples is shorter, which can sometimes result in negative consequences for the infants as well. The risks however, can be minimized through careful monitoring and regular checkups. A healthy diet is also recommended and you should follow your doctor’s dietary plan and other suggestions when you find out you’re having twins or multiples.

In my friend’s family everyone anticipates twins, but for some, it can come as a complete surprise. Sometimes twins are a welcome joy, sometimes they come as a surprise that was not planned for. Whatever the situation happens to be, raising twins in an undeniably unique experience you should cherish if you just happen to be the lucky winner.


  • Oachim W. Dudenhausen, Rolf F. Maier. Perinatal Problems in Multiple Births. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 2010; 107 (38): 663-8 DOI:10.3238/arztebl.2010.0663
  • Deutsches Aerzteblatt International (2010, October 8). Risks in multiple pregnancies. ScienceDaily.