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Physical Evidence

Are YOU a wombtwin survivor?

One of our readers wrote to ask what we knew on this topic. I was unfamiliar with it, but in reading the research, am totally intrigued. Not much has been done on it, but Althea Hayton is making it her life’s work. She has graciously agreed to share, and we’ve broken it down to parts that will run on the Bereavement page the next few weeks. As you read, as questions arise, please write to the Bereavement Editor. The questions will certainly be included in the interview.

Part 1 Physical Evidence
2 Psychological Evidence
3 Emotional Evidence
4 Interview with Ms. Hayton
5 January 2011, a review of her book

This article sets out some of the many ways in which wombtwin survivors can
identify themselves.

PART 1 - PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

MY TWIN WAS STILLBORN or miscarried. In this case everyone will probably know that you once had a twin, but you may not have been told. It may be possible to establish this from medical records. It may not have occurred to your parents to tell you.

BLEEDING IN EARLY PREGNANCY, possibly more than one episode. It is possible that your mother had bleeding, without passing anything recognizable. This may be a sign that more than one embryo was lost.

MULTIPLE EMBRYO IMPLANTATIONS. Even today, more than one embryo is introduced. Chances are that you are the survivor of a multiple pregnancy.

ULTRASOUND SCAN SHOWING A “VANISHED TWIN”. If you were conceived before 1980, it is unlikely that a scan would have been done. If one was, the scan picture may still be in your parents’ possession. It would be worth seeing.

A FETUS PAPYRACEOUS, the tiny, mummified body of a twin still in a sac and attached to the placenta at birth. Prior to1980 it is very unlikely that one would have been noticed, registered or spoken of to your parents. However, there may be something in your birth records.

DERMOID CYSTS AND TERATOMAS containing bones, teeth and hair have been found in all parts of the body, even the brain. An identical twin died and was absorbed into the survivor’s embryonic body as it was being formed.

ANOTHER AMNIOTIC SAC WAS ATTACHED TO MY PLACENTA. These days the placenta is examined carefully and the parents informed of any signs of a “vanished” twin. The sac is usually empty but may contain some remains.

IF THE MOTHER TOOK DRUGS TO STIMULATE OVULATION, the chances of a multiple pregnancies are increased.

PLACENTA ABNORMALITIES. Placentas vary in size and shape. If very large and thick, two placentas may have become fused. Upon examination, there are
marks or nodules attached, clues to a lost twin. Today, histologists examine placentas carefully after birth and “vanished” twins are being discovered.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CEREBRAL PALSY, closely related to being the survivor of an identical pair, affecting about half of identical wombtwin survivors .

BIRTH DEFECTS may have been caused by twinning in the womb, including neural tube defects and epilepsy.

TWINS DIAGNOSED WITHOUT ULTRASOUND, hearing two heartbeats or simply by feeling the size of the uterus. Before ultrasound, twins were often missed.

THE DEATH OF A TWIN IN PREGNANCY can put the whole pregnancy at risk, especially if the twins are identical. The surviving twin may be born early.
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DIAGNOSIS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA OR AUTISM. Bleeding in pregnancy is strongly associated with the loss of a twin. Pregnancy problems have been put forward in various research reports as the possible cause of many serious psychiatric disorders. Bleeding in pregnancy has been mentioned in several of these reports, but none so far has mentioned the loss of a twin in the womb as a cause of these disorders. According to a study carried out in the 1970s, about 1% of the population of the world has been diagnosed with schizophrenia at sometime in their lives.

Next week – Psychological Evidence

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