Twins and Multiples: Can You Increase Your Chance of Conceiving Twins?

My husband and I have a two-year-old son, but now we'd like twins, which run in my husband's family. Can we increase the chances of conceiving twins without the use of fertility drugs?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Twins are inherited from the mother's side, so unfortunately you aren't more likely to have twins even though they are common on your husband's side of the family.

You didn't say where you live or how old you are. Believe it or not, according to Trends in Twin and Triplet Birth 1980-1987, from the Division of Vital Statistics, where you live can make a difference in your chance of conceiving twins. If you live in the states of Massachusetts or Connecticut you are statistically more likely to have twins -- 25 percent more likey than average for the U.S. as a whole. Your chance of having triplets (and more) almost doubles if you live in New Jersey or Nebraska.

Depending on your age you might choose to wait a bit. If you are over 35, your chance of having twins is significantly increased -- and the older you get, the more your chance of conceiving twins. One-third of the increase in multiple births over the past two decades is believed to be due to the increase in older women becoming pregnant. The highest twin and triplet birth rate is for women between the ages of 45 and 49.

A couple of new studies have suggested a link between folic acid supplements, which are recommended for women planning to become pregnant, and an increase in the number of twin conceptions. Researchers at La Trobe University's Center for the Study of Mothers' Health looked at three folate supplement trials and found women who took folic acid before becoming pregnant had a 40 percent greater chance of having twins. Some other studies looking at folic acid and twins have been contradictory, so the jury is still out on this one, but be sure to take folic acid as you're preparing for pregnancy since it can help prevent neural tube defects. And, who knows, you just might get the twins you want.

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