A study in 2006 claimed you are five times more likely to conceive fraternal twins if you consume a dairy-rich diet. I’m sharing the science behind this study and looking at worldwide trends for increased multiple births. Does drinking milk increase your chances of twins?
The Rise in Twin Births
There has been a considerable rise in fraternal twin births since the 1970’s and there are two key recognized reasons for this trend:
- Women are having babies later. Older moms are more likely to birth multiples.
- The first IVF baby was born in 1978 and IVF has been on the increase since. IVF often results in multiples.
The rate of identical twins has remained pretty constant. It is the occurrence of multiple eggs being released and fertilized which is on the incline. Although there is a clear trend in increased multiple births, it is worth looking back further than the 1970s. Look at the chart below… what immediately jumps out at you? Is it the sudden increase or is it the clear dip in the mid-1970s?
The Milk & Multiple Birth Study
Back in 2006, news broke that a new study had found you are five times more likely to birth fraternal twins if you eat/drink a lot of dairy products. The study claimed eating dairy boosts the production of a protein called ‘Insulin-Like Growth Factor‘ (IGF) which has been linked with multiple ovulation. More eggs mean more twins!
This study also made a controversial link between growth hormones given to dairy cattle in the US and multiple ovulation.
Although the twinning rate in the U.K.–where bovine growth hormone is banned–rose by 16 percent between 1992 and 2001, it increased by 32 percent in the U.S., where the substance is not banned.
D.Beillo, Diet Linked to Twin Birth, ScientificAmerican.com
I was on board with this study until this point came up. Let’s go back to the chart… yes, the US twin rate has increased faster than the UK but what about My Big Fat Greek elephant in the room? Greece and Denmark have been exploding with Twins for the past two decades and growth hormones are banned in both these countries.
Also, looking outside US and Europe… Central Africa has one of the highest multiple birth rates in the World. Contrastingly, Asia has extremely low rates of multiple births. Both areas have a genetic tendency for lactose intolerance and don’t eat/drink a dairy-rich diet. So if dairy is a factor, I would argue it is an extremely small one.
So Does Drinking Milk Increase Your Chances of Twins?
I’m just little old me and not a scientist in a lab full of pregnant women… therefore I really don’t know. Vegan women are less likely to give birth to twins, which seems like a strong piece of evidence too. However:
Milk-drinking women could tend to be fatter or better nourished – and heavier women are also more likely to bear twins. Alternatively, there might be other nutrients that vegan women lack.
H.Pearson, A Diet of Milk Could Bring Twins, Nature.com
What I’m getting from this is… if you want to increase your chances of having twins you should eat lots of cheese and ice cream, get fat and be happy. Sounds good to me.
I can’t help thinking there is something big we are missing. I look at that chart and see a dip in the 70’s. What were we doing in the mid 70’s that would bring all the twinning rates down like that? Is it economic? After this little dig into research, all I’ve come up with is more questions. But for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed thinking about it with me!
What do you think? Are you a dairy lover with twins?