Friday, January 17, 2014

Thoughts on identical triplets

When you're a parent to identical triplets and there's a news article announcing the birth of identical triplets, it's inevitable that someone will forward that article to you.  What I find so interesting in these new stories is the information provided regarding the birth rate of identical triplets.  The most common rate, and the one my MFM (Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist) told us, is 1 in a million but I've seen 1 in 50,000 all the way to 1 in 100 million.  My MoM (mother of multiples) friends and I have debunked that last rate based on common sense.  If there are approximately 300 million people in the United States, that means that there would only be approximately 3 sets of identical triplets.  That doesn't sound right.  There are about 4 million births in the United States each year.  If only 1 in 100 million were identical triplets, we'd have to wait a long time to witness such a birth and I've read about 3 sets born in the past month.

I also find it amazing that in almost every article the doctor is quoted as saying that these births are so rare, the data doesn't exist for an accurate birth rate.  In this day and age, it seems to me that it should be easy to track such births, especially they really are so rare.  And I do believe that there is rarity to them.  My MFM was the head of the group at a big city hospital and my identical triplets were only the second set he had ever seen.  The first set had been 13 years earlier and based what he said, I don't believe they survived.

Because we're on the subject - I'm still fascinated with the theory that identical triplets really begin as identical quads.  Some believe that egg splitting happens equally, meaning that if the egg is weak enough to split into two (giving you identical twins) that if one of those twins is going to split (which would give you identical triplets) that both twins splits (giving you identical quads.)  Confusing, I know.  I think it's an interesting theory, although I'm not so sure I believe it.  I wonder what the egg splitting was for the Dionne Quintuplets.

In the latest identical triplets news story I watched online, the doctor is quoted as saying the outcome was good because the mother was healthy and took care of herself.  I want to point out that no matter how well a woman takes care of herself, sometimes things happen beyond our control.  There's only so much we can do.  Yes, taking care of yourself is important but it only goes so far.  As most of us know, and all of us should know, even a healthy singleton pregnancy can end in ruins.   


Chantel said...

I saw those articles and thought about you, it amazed me it made national news. I agree, the comments from the doctor don't make me feel the best. I was healthy and took care of myself and my singleton pregnancy, a full 40 weeks, still ended in tragedy. But I also know how completely jaded I am.

Pink Apple Rose Boutique said...

Genetics are amazing for sure. I enjoy posts like this.

In a book I read in college (some 20 years ago) that I found at the Seattle Public Library, written about study on the Dionne Quints, it was suspected that they may have been sextuplets and that one passed earlier in the pregnancy according to their research on the mother's statements.

I find it equally interesting in the same book that one quint had a hair whorl on her head (cow lick) that went in the opposite direction as her sisters and that she was left handed and more a mirror image to one of her sisters. How they figured which sister she was mirror image of is beyond me as I only read, I'm not a scientist.

Nicole Sladden said...

As a doctor myself, such comments also trouble me. Much of my work centres around babies lost before they are born and the vague intimation that there's anything a mother can do to influence such outcomes is deeply unsettling. How I wish doctors were more cautious with the messages they send to the public.

On a happier aside, I'm glad to have found your blog, Sarah. I've been reading through from the beginning, so am currently reading about when the girls were 4 1/2. I've really been enjoying your honest style and beautiful photography.

Wishing you a very fulfilling 2014 :).

Cathy said...

I was annoyed that they kept saying that they were natural identical triplets. It's not possible to create identical births in humans, is it?

MCox said...

I also read that Dionne Quints might have been 6. Mother passed clots early in pregnancy. So there may be some truth to the theory. I also read that the Quints were two to a sac plus one by herself. Article said that the pairs who shared an amniotic sac were closer emotionally to that other sister and the one who was alone in a sac was more often than not alone in life. Maybe her mate was the one who did not survive. It is fascinating. You are in a unique spot.

The Kriegels said...

I've been reading your blog for a few months and just read a few posts at the same time that I wanted to comment on. This post about identical triplets the rariety rates of identical triplets may differ based on if fertility treatments were used is what I'm guessing they mean. For instance, I'm sure you were just informed (or maybe its the article you were referencing) the triplets born with no fertility drugs to a couple a few days ago.

From a different post: a doll wardrobe option might be the My Generation option available at Target. I think they are $50 each and I"m sure go on sale at some point.