Twice the fun: 1 in 30 babies born in the U.S. is a twin

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Walk the sidewalks of any hip urban enclave—San Francisco’s Noe Valley, Portland’s Hawthorne District, or Brooklyn’s Park Slope—and you’ll find yourself dodging double strollers. In these areas that attract the upwardly mobile educated class twins seem to be a dime a dozen.

And this isn’t because you’re seeing double: The numbers show that twins are on the rise. A new study from Michigan State University shows that in 2009 one in every 30 babies born in the United States was a twin compared with one in every 53 in 1980.

“Prior to 1980, the incidence of U.S. twin births was stable at about 2 percent of all births, but it has risen dramatically in the past three decades,” said study author Barbara Luke, a researcher in the Michigan State’s College of Human Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

The dramatic increase is a result of more women having kids later in life and becoming more dependent on In-vitro fertilization, aka IVF, to get pregnant.

IVF creates thousands of new families—some 48,000 in the U.S. every year. The process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the woman’s womb is used when all other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. It’s often used when a woman over 35 years old struggles with getting pregnant.

Why are so many IVF babies twins? To increase the probability of a successful pregnancy, doctors typically implant two to three embryos into the woman’s womb.

In the spirit of twins, we’ve put together a slide show of readers’ dynamic duos.

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