We’re always fascinated by the things in life that we don’t fully understand, and twins are no exception. How can they look so similar? Do they really share the same thoughts and feelings? Have they ever pretended to be the other one?
Most of us know a set of twins, and let’s admit it, sometimes we just can’t tell which one is which. We look for subtle differences to help us tell them apart, and even then, we often get it wrong. It’s much easier with fraternal twins, who we often say look quite different from each other.
But did you know that twins who look identical to each other may not actually be identical twins? Similarly, twins who look quite different to each other may not be fraternal! Confusing, right? Unlike the rest of us, twins are unique because the shared the same DNA. Identical twins originate from the same fertilised egg, and fraternal twins are formed from two different eggs and two different sperm, meaning that they share 50% of their DNA, as is seen in regular, non-twin siblings.
Multiple Birth Awareness Week occurs in March each year, and this year, runs from 20-27 March. This nation-wide campaign aims to draw attention to the unique realities for multiple birth families, and to advocate, education and engage communities to enable positive health outcomes for multiples and their families. This year’s theme is Educating the Educators, and intends to shine a spotlight on the unique needs of multiples and their parents, and ensure that they have adequate access to information on how to best support for these needs throughout their lives.
There are a number of things that parents of twins have to consider, whether it be educational or social. These include:
• Classroom placement – whether to split them or keep them together – is one of the biggest dilemmas faced by parents of multiples.
• School readiness – with 65% of twins and 95% of higher order multiples born prematurely and higher rates of developmental delays, the decision about when multiples start, can be more difficult.
• Being treated as individuals – ensuring professionals and the general community, acknowledge multiples as separate entities and avoid comparisons or labels.
• Fostering individuality – encouraging and supporting multiples to develop their own unique personalities, friendships and interests.
To get involved, find more information at the Australian Multiple Birth Association.
Being a twin is much more than external features, and parents of twins, or even twins themselves can discover more about their twin status with a simple DNA test. EasyDNA Australia offers the Twins DNA Test, for those who are curious to know if the twins in question are identical or fraternal, or for medical reasons. In medical situations, knowing the twin zygosity can be beneficial if blood transfusions or organ transplant is needed. One twin can potentially save the life of another. Your Twins DNA Test can be undertaken from the comfort of your own home after you receive your sample collection kit, and results will be revealed in a timely manner.
March is a great time to uncover at least one of the mysteries about twins, and to learn more about their unique genetic makeup, as well as allowing them to embrace their individuality while supporting their distinctive relationships with each other.