Gird Your Birth Canals: Twins Could Be in Your Future

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Photo: Sarah Kastner/Westend61 / Sarah Kastner

More women are getting a two-for-one deal on offspring and if the pattern continues you, too, could be cleaning twice the spit-up someday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the twin birth rate hit a record-high 33.9 sets per 1,000 births in 2014, up from 33.7 in 2013. It's not a massive single-year increase, but the rate has been climbing steadily since 1980, when it was a mere 18.9. Not all multiples are on the rise: Births of triplets and higher fell 5 percent and are down by 40 percent since their peak in 1998.

The authors think the increase in the "twinning rate" is due to fertility treatments like IVF where multiple embryos are implanted (though fewer than in the '80s and '90s) and the advent of older moms. Births among teens and women in their 20s hit record lows last year, while rates rose for women in their late 20s, 30s, and early 40s.

Yes, it can be harder to get pregnant the older you get, but some research suggests that the ovaries of women in their 30s are more likely to release two eggs per cycle compared to those of women in their 20s. Translation: Conceiving in your 30s and above means higher odds of having fraternal twins. (Identical twins are the result of a fertilized egg dividing in half. As a genetic anomaly, this doesn't appear to change with age, and rates are constant around the world.)

If trying to feed, clean, and swaddle two wailing newborns sounds like your version of hell, at least there will be lots of other moms who can relate.