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twins:see multiple birthmultiple birth,
bringing forth of more than one offspring at birth. Although many smaller mammals bear several young at a time, multiple births are relatively uncommon in humans and other primates.
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Two babies born to a mother at one birth. There are two types of twins, monozygotic and dizygotic. Members of a twin pair are called co-twins.
Controversy surrounding the definition of a twin arose with the advent of reproductive technologies enabling the simultaneous fertilization of eggs, with separate implantation. The unique “twinlike” relationships that would result between parents and cloned children (who would be genetically identical to their parents) also challenge current conceptions of twinship. Monozygotic twins are clones (genetically identical individuals derived from a single fertilized egg), but parents and cloned children would not be twins for several reasons, such as their differing prenatal and postnatal environments.
The division of a single fertilized egg (or zygote) between 1 and 14 days postconception results in monozygotic twins. They share virtually all their genes and, with very rare exception due to unusual embryological events, are of the same sex. A common assumption is that because monozygotic co-twins have a shared heredity, their behavioral or physical differences are fully explained by environmental factors. However, monozygotic twins are never exactly alike in any measured trait, and may even differ for genetic reasons.
Sometimes chromosomes fail to separate after fertilization, causing some cells to contain the normal chromosome number (46) and others to contain an abnormal number. This process, mosaicism, results in monozygotic co-twins who differ in chromosomal constitution. There are several other intriguing variations of monozygotic twinning. Splitting of the zygote after day 7 or 8 may lead to mirror-image reversal in certain traits, such as handedness or direction of hair whorl. The timing of zygotic division has also been associated with placentation. Monozygotic twins resulting from earlier zygotic division have separate placentae and fetal membranes (chorion and amnion), while monozygotic twins resulting from later zygotic division share some or all of these structures. Should the zygote divide after 14 days, the twins may fail to separate completely. This process, known as conjoined twinning, occurs in approximately 1 monozygotic twin birth out of 200. The many varieties of conjoined twins differ as to the nature and extent of their shared anatomy. Approximately 70% of such twins are female. There do not appear to be any predisposing factors to conjoined twinning. See Mosaicism
Dizygotic twins result when two different eggs undergo fertilization by two different spermatozoa, not necessarily at the same time. Dizygotic twins share, on average, 50% of their genes, by descent, so that the genetic relationship between dizygotic co-twins is exactly the same as that of ordinary brothers or sisters. Dizygotic twins may be of the same or opposite sex, outcomes that occur with approximately equal frequency.
There are some unusual variations of dizygotic twinning. There is the possibility of polar body twinning, whereby divisions of the ovum prior to fertilization by separate spermatozoa could result in twins whose genetic relatedness falls between that of monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Blood chimerism, another variation, refers to the presence of more than one distinct red blood cell population, derived from two zygotes, and has been explained by connections between two placentae. In humans, chimerism can occur in dizygotic twins. Superfecundation is the conception of dizygotic twins following separate fertilizations, usually within several days, in which case each co-twin could have a different father. Superfetation, which refers to multiple conceptions occurring several weeks or even one month apart, may be evidenced by delivery of full-term infants separated by weeks or months and by the birth or abortion of twin infants displaying differential developmental status.
According to conventional twinning rates, monozygotic twins represent approximately one-third of twins born in Caucasian populations and occur at a rate of 3–4 per 1000 births. The biological events responsible for monozygotic twinning are not well understood. It is generally agreed that monozygotic twinning occurs randomly and not as a genetically transmitted tendency. Some recent evidence from Sweden suggests an increased tendency for mothers who are monozygotic twins to bear same-sex twins themselves; further work will be needed to resolve this question.
Dizygotic twinning represents approximately two-thirds of twins born in Caucasian populations. The dizygotic twinning rate is lowest among Asian populations (2 per 1000 births), intermediate among Caucasian populations (8 per 1000 births), and highest among African populations (50 per 1000 births in parts of Nigeria). The natural twinning rate increases with maternal age, up to between 35 and 39 years, and then declines. Dizygotic twinning has also been linked to increased parity, or the number of children to which a woman has previously given birth. Mothers of dizygotic twins are also significantly taller and heavier, on average, than mothers of monozygotic twins and singletons. Dizygotic twinning appears to be genetically influenced, although the pattern of transmission within families is unknown.
Twinning rates have risen dramatically since about 1980 mainly due to advances in fertility treatments (for example, in vitro fertilization and ovulation induction), but also due to delays in the child-bearing years. The increase has mainly involved dizygotic twinning in which multiple ovulation and maternal age matter.
What does it mean when you dream about twins?
The appearance in a dream of two of a kind (people or animals) may symbolize the union of opposites, or a duality of consciousness, either in harmony with, or in conflict between, ideas and decisions. The dreamer may be demonstrating two distinct personalities.