The Vanishing Twin Syndrome

Some experts believe that the Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs in one out of every eight pregnancies.

It is the phenomenon of a pregnancy starting out at conception as a twin pregnancy and somewhere along the line, mostly during the first trimester, being transformed by its own accord into a normal singleton pregnancy. It is estimated that 80% of twin pregnancies result in the loss of one or both babies.

A typical situation goes something like this: A woman goes for her first pregnancy ultrasound at 8 weeks gestation and is told by the technician or the doctor that its twins! She is shown the image of two tiny forms on the monitor and the doctor tells here there are two heartbeats.ultra sound

She is torn between trepidation and elation, however by the time she has her next ultrasound at 12 weeks, there is only one fetus! This is what the Vanishing Twin Syndrome is all about.

It is not clear what happens, how, when and why, but it is generally understood that if there is something the matter with one of the fetuses, it simply gets reabsorbed into the body.

The woman usually has no symptoms to indicate that this has taken place: there is generally no bleeding, pain, contraction or anything to indicate that there is a miscarriage of sorts that has taken place.

There is no clearly understood reason for the vanishing twin, it is usually believed that it is nature’s way of eliminating any possible birth defects that the child may be born with. There are however cases when there is some small amount of bleeding, some pain, mild discomfort such as cramping.

There is usually no problem if this phenomenon occurs during the first trimester, however there may be some complications if it occurs later on in the pregnancy.

The reason that vanishing twin pregnancies seem to be getting more common is that in fact they are not getting more common, simply coming to light more often.

With advancements in medical procedures and ultrasounds becoming more common, earlier in the pregnancy, twins are being detected more, whereas earlier twins would not be detected until a later stage of pregnancy.

The Vanishing Twin Syndrome is not something that negatively impacts a pregnancy, either the well being of the surviving child or the mother. However, there may be some emotional fallout:  there may be some sense of bereavement suffered by the woman who undergoes it. She may be torn between grief and guilt at feeling a small amount of relief that she won’t have to deal with twins!


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