multiple birth

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Related to Septuplets: Octuplets, Nonuplets

multiple 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. Twinning, the process that leads to the production of more than one offspring, results in twins, and with decreasing frequency, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets, and octuplets.

In the one-egg, or identical, type of twinning, a single fertilized ovum divides to form two complete organisms. Such twins are always of the same sex, are usually extraordinarily similar in physical appearance, and have identical blood-group types. Twinning to form one-egg identical twins usually takes place early in pregnancy. If considerable development has taken place before the twinning occurs, there may be an incomplete separation of the two embryos resulting in conjoined twinsconjoined twins,
congenitally united organisms that are complete or nearly complete individuals, historically known as Siamese twins. They develop from a single fertilized ovum that has divided imperfectly; complete division would produce identical twins, having the same sex and
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. Despite their similarities, identical twins have epigenetic differences that influence how their common DNA is used and expressed.

Fraternal twins, which are more common than identical twins, are those that develop from two separate ova, each fertilized by a sperm. Fraternal twins may or may not be of the same sex and need not resemble each other more than do any other two offspring of the same parents. In the United States twins occur once in approximately 40 births. In rare cases, non-identical embryos can fuse in the womb to produce a condition called chimerism, in which some of the individual's cells come from one of the embryos and the rest of the cells come from the other, genetically distinct embryo.

The incidence of multiple-egg births is in part genetically determined, varying according to race and family tendencies; and it is also influenced by external factors, i.e., the incidence increases with increasing age of the mother and the number of children she has already borne. One-egg, or identical, twinning occurs with the same frequency in all women, regardless of race, age, or other factors. There is evidence from comparative biology that deleterious factors in the environment of the newly fertilized ovum, such as a reduction in oxygen, increase the likelihood of one-egg twinning. Fertility drugsfertility drug,
any of a variety of substances used to increase the possibility of conception and successful pregnancy. Different methods are used to correct or circumvent the many different functional disorders of both males and females that can interfere with conception and
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 such as clomiphene, which are used when the cause of infertility is lack of released ova, sometimes cause several ova to be released and fertilized simultaneously. The use of these drugs has led to a rise in the incidence of multiple births, including sextuplets, septuplets, and octuplets.

References in periodicals archive ?
London, Dec 31 (ANI): The world's first surviving septuplets celebrated their 13th birthday recently.
Previous multiple births, such as the McCaughey septuplets in 1997 (16) and the Chukwu-Udobi octuplets, of which only seven survived the first week, received media attention (Hobart Mercury, 2008).
An Egyptian woman has given birth to a set of septuplets in what doctors termed "a miracle".
Consider: Quadruplets (4), Quintuplets (5), Sextuplets (6), Septuplets (7), Octuplets (8), Nonuplets (9), Decaplets (10), Undecaplets (11), Duodecaplets (12), and Quindecaplets (15).
Cairo: AaAn Egyptian father of septuplets has named his babies after President Hosni Mubarak and his family, according to a local newspaper.
A DAY after giving birth to septuplets, a 27-year-old Egyptian woman said yesterday she's only seen her babies on television and hopes to hold them and give them names soon.
NO wonder new mum Ghazala Khamis looks so shattered - she's just had these septuplets.
EGYPT: A woman has given birth to a set of septuplets in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, in what doctors termed C[pounds sterling]a miracleC[yen].
One of the current favourites is Sir William No Mates, who is clearly rather grand and is either one of identical septuplets or has simply never missed a meeting in living memory.
BOBBI McCaughey gave birth to the first set of surviving septuplets when her four boys and three girls were delivered by Caesarean in Iowa in 1997 after she had IVF treatment.
What's in between--roughly 2,900 miles--is flyover country: jigsaw-puzzle pieces scattered with thousands of dots that make news only when rivers overflow, twisters spin out of control, or shy Iowa seamstresses deliver septuplets.