how are conjoined twins produced?

Asked by  | 11th Oct, 2008, 04:36: PM

Expert Answer:

Conjoined twins are whose bodies are joined in utero. A rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 200,000 births. Approximately half are stillborn, and a smaller fraction of pairs born alive have abnormalities incompatible with life. The overall survival rate for conjoined twins is approximately 25%. The condition is more frequently found among females, with a ratio of 3:1.

Two contradicting theories exist to explain the origins of conjoined twins. The older and most generally accepted theory is fission, in which the fertilized egg splits partially. The second theory is fusion, in which a fertilized egg completely separates, but stem cells find like-stem cells on the other twin and fuse the twins together.

Surgery to separate conjoined twins may range from relatively simple to extremely complex, depending on the point of attachment and the internal parts that are shared. Most cases of separation are extremely risky and life-threatening. In many cases, the surgery results in the death of one or both of the twins, particularly if they are joined at the head.

Answered by  | 11th Oct, 2008, 06:39: PM

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