(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- At the moment, Brendon Hamilton and Brandon Hamilton are the only set of twins at Missouri Delta Medical Center, but last week the stork delivered two pairs of babies to keep the fraternal twins in good company over the weekend -- and also filling the nursery with three sets of twins.
Last year from August through December, Missouri Delta had six sets of twins. In one month, they've already had three sets, said Linda Curtis, obstetrics registered nurse at Missouri Delta.
"We've had three sets of twins before, but it's been about 15 or 16 years since we've had three sets of twins here at the same time," Curtis said.
Omarion and Kieshaun Thatch were born Friday, but went home Sunday. They each weighed over 5 pounds when they were born. Another set was born Wednesday and went home, too.
"Twins are born at Missouri Delta quite often," Curtis noted. "The hospital almost always has at least one set a month, and it seems like most of them are boys."
While Missouri Delta has seen a jump in the number of sets of twins over the past week, the number of multiple pregnancies (being pregnant with more than one baby) is also on a national rise.
In the past two decades, the number of multiple births in the United States has jumped dramatically. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of twin births has increased 74 percent, and the number of higher order multiples (triplets or more) has increased fivefold, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Today, about 3 percent of babies in this country are born in sets of two, three or more, and about 95 percent of these multiple births are twins.
In 2002, Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau had 18 sets of twins. Already in 2003, they're up to 12 sets, noted Joni Adams, Web master for Southeast. Adams is also in charge of posting the newborns on the hospital's site.
"Women who are pregnant with twins or triplets typically have their babies early -- at about 35 to 38 weeks so doctors watch them closely," noted Adams, who's also researching multiple pregnancies.
Brendon and Brandon's parents, Kimberly Cole and Brandon Hamilton, said their sons were born prematurely and weighed a little over 2 pounds when they were born. Now they weigh slightly over 3 pounds.
About one-third of the increase in multiple pregnancies is due to more women over age 30 (who are more likely to conceive multiples) having babies, the March of Dimes Birth Defects reports. The remainder of the increase is due to the use of fertility-stimulating drugs and assisted reproductive techniques. According to the most recent survey of ART programs in the United States, 56 percent of births resulting from these procedures were multiples.
A woman also has a higher-than-average chance of conceiving twins if she has a personal or family history of fraternal twins or if she is obese, according to the March of Dimes.
Both Cole and Omarion and Kieshaun's mother, Shatekia Thatch of Parma said twins run in their families.
Since twins run in Thatch's family, Thatch said her aunt warned her ahead of time that having twins is a lot of work.
"When one moves the other one moves," Thatch said from her home Monday. "I thought when one would eat, the other would sleep, but I've been feeding both of them at the same time."
While Thatch is a first-time parent of twins, Cole and Hamilton already have one set of girl twins.
Cole and Hamilton said having twins for a second time is very similar to the first time, except their girls -- Vontreal and Loreal who turn 3 at the end of this month -- didn't have to stay in the hospital as long as Brendon and Brandon.
Hamilton said the twin daughters are excited about their little brothers, but haven't really seen them since they're still in the hospital.
Asked if he had any advice for new parents of twins, Hamilton said not to expect to sleep at night -- and to double up.
"We have two of everything," joked Hamilton. "You have to have two of everything."