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You're not seeing double - more and more twins being born

Good news for the makers of double strollers and dual harnesses to rein toddlers in: The rate of twin births in the United States has doubled in the past 30 years, Reuters reports.

One in 30 infants born in 2009 was a twin, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report singled out fertility treatments as a major factor in the rise of two-for-one specials. Nevertheless, one-third of the increase in twin births is the result of women waiting longer to have kids, the CDC reported.

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Canadians are also seeing double – and triple. Between 1991 and 2009, the rate of multiple births increased by more than 50 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

Of children conceived through fertility treatments, 45 per cent had a twin, triplet or even more womb-mates.

Parents often extol the joys of having twins: A twofer is an instant family, they say. Websites such as note that multiples develop social skills early because "they have never known loneliness."

In medical circles, however, twins are still considered high risk.

About half of all twins are born too soon, The Globe and Mail reported.

In 7 per cent of twin pregnancies, and 22 per cent of triplet pregnancies, at least one child ends up with a lifelong health problem such as cerebral palsy, blindness or learning disabilities.

Many fertility specialists have become advocates of single embryo transfer, in which only one egg is inserted in the uterus after in-vitro fertilization.

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In Quebec – the only jurisdiction in North American to fully fund IVF – single embryo transfer now accounts for 51 per cent of IVF cycles, The Globe and Mail reported.

The publicly funded single-embryo approach offsets the medical costs of treating multiples with acute or lifelong health conditions. But it may not satisfy couples who have spent years longing to be parents, ideally of twins.

There's no doubt that fertility treatments have created novel families. Reuben Blake, age 5, and his baby sister, Floren, are twins – conceived from the same batch of fertilized eggs, but transferred to the womb five years apart.

Their parents, Jody and Simon Blake, didn't even have to buy a double stroller.

Do you or someone you know have twins? Have you been noticing more twofers out and about?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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