Thursday, 3 May 2012

Twin statistics - are twins more likely to have accidents or injury?

Watching my twins zooming around the living room the other day, egging each other on to go faster and faster, before finally coming together in a tearful baby crash in the middle of the room, I started to wonder if accidents were more likely for multiple babies and children than for singletons. I have certainly noticed that the twins seem to have been involved in more minor incidents than I ever remember the older two children being. Then I thought a bit more, and being an academic and a bit of a numbers geek, I decided to do a bit of twin research. And of course, that meant the internet.


Me, with my beloved stats.

The first thing I noticed on my little journey into twin statistics was that there is no shortage of facts available on the chances of conceiving and giving birth to twins. But I already know about the link between my maternal family history and my multiples – it’s how being a twin will impact on my children’s lives that fascinates me.

So first up, there are some things about twins and multiples that won’t really come as a surprise. Multiple pregnancies are more complicated, so mothers expecting multiples are more likely to experience problems on the way. Multiples are more likely to be smaller at birth, more likely to be premature, and sadly as a result, have a higher infant mortality and disability rate. This of course, is an average, and there are many instances where multiples are just as big and healthy as singleton babies - like my own, and for that I am grateful. There is some good information on the Multiple Births Foundation website.

Multiples have a higher rate of cot death, which has been attributed to the fact that twins are more likely to be in their own room rather than their parents’ room due to space constraints. Sad, but true. There is no evidence to suggest that twins are at a greater risk per se, which is reassuring.

A startling fact is that parents of multiples are more likely to divorce than parents of singletons. This is attributed to the pressures, mainly financial, that come from the change in needs due to the sudden increase in family size. This item in The Telegraph explains it better than I could. 

Organisations like TAMBA have campaigned long and hard for support for families of multiples to help through the issues that parents of multiples seem to face disproportionately. TAMBA have recently campaigned against benefit cuts that, because of their nature, will hit multiple families much harder 

Did you know that twins are twice as likely as the general population to be left-handed? I didn't either, but I do now.

As mother to my beloved twins, it is shocking how many twins (identical and non-identical) are used for scientific and psychological research. It would seem that twins are seen as great test cases for the nature ‘v’ nurture debate. Is this unethical? I am alarmed to think that my girls are more likely to be targeted for social and medical experimentation, like they are human guinea-pigs. They are a source of fascination, not only to me, but to scientists with testing equipment. It’s a scary thought. 


See, I told you. Evil and untrustworthy.

Anyway, after all this research, are twins more likely to have accidents than other children? I still don’t know the answer to that one. It has been suggested that twins can collaborate to get up to mischief, that twins are more likely to be left alone for longer, and that the parent’s attention is divided meaning that accidents could be more common. However, there is also the flip-side that twins can help each other and alert carers if there is a problem. I can understand all this as I have seen it with my own (apart from the alerting me to a problem bit, which would be impressive at this age). As far as academic research is concerned, the jury is still out. Sorry.

With my little journey into twin statistics, I have found some interesting stuff, and the issues surrounding twins will continue to fascinate me for the rest of my life. But if you are a nut-job in a white coat and a clipboard, you can stay away from mine, thank you very much.

MultipleMummy
 

12 comments:

  1. Interesting stuff! A friend of mine with twins also commented on how her boys appeared to communicate with each other in their own language (and plot and execute mischief!) before they learned to talk in a language intelligible to others. Do yours do that too?

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    1. No they don't but it was something that came up during my research. The current thinking is that they don't have their own language but use wrong words and mispronounciations like every other child of that age. The reason they seem to have a common language is that they both make the same mistakes and can recognise the other's mistakes because they spend so much time together. It's all interesting stuff and will keep me fascinated forever.

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  2. Having two sets of twins I make my own observations and in our case our twin sets couldn't be any more chalk and cheese if they tried starting with type of twins, when they were born, how much they weighed right through to their personalities. Three things that spring to mind that they all have/had in common was the sleep deprivation they bought to us parents (we co-slept very quickly because of it) and the practical issues of keeping two adventurous little people safe and the fascination and funny sometimes personal questions that they bring when out in public ;-)

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    1. Oh god yes, the questions. People are so endlessly fascinated with them, so it's understandable. But seeing them as individuals is so important. Thanks for your comment. And two sets? Wow.

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  3. Great post, really interesting stuff! I must admit that I find twins fascinating, my brother married an identical twin and I have to stop myself asking all the questions that I'm sure she must get asked all the time!

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  4. I love this - twins are fascinating aren't they? I'm sure if mine were singletons born a couple of years apart they wouldn't be so covered in bruises and wouldn't get up to such mischief! When mine were born I tried to explain to people that twins don't just have to share your attention - as a parent you also have double the chores to do to take care of them, so they get much less than half the attention of a singleton. But today while I was cooking dinner and they were racing each other up and down the hall I realised how lucky I am to have a pair of ready-made playmates as finally having twins feels (sometimes) like it's easier than having one baby to look after!!

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    1. Yes, I am wondering if there are any studies done which look into whether twins turn out to be more self-reliant later in life.....

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  5. Fab set of statistics! I did not know about the left handed thing. There was a twin program on not so long ago that was really interesting but like you said it is using twins for study, although I think some do volunteer or are paid for it. I am not sure I would want mine studied!

    Thanks for sharing in the Multiple Mayhem carnival. x

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    1. and thanks for having me and my random stats geekery!

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  6. I love all your facts, made for a great read. I wouldn't say mine are any more accident prone than their older single siblings, but they did have their own triplet language for longer than the others.

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    1. I am still waiting for the language thing. I feel one will be the chatty one while the other just tags along. Like Jay and Silent Bob. Thanks for your comments, I'm coming your way right now.

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