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Gynaecologist, Dr. Bright Airhumwunde Explains Why Nigeria Has High Prevalence Of Fraternal Twins

Gynaecologist, Dr. Bright Airhumwunde Explains Why Nigeria Has High Prevalence Of Fraternal Twins

A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Bright Airhumwunde, says Nigeria has the highest number of non-identical [fraternal] twins in the world.

This, according to the physician, is due to the high prevalence of multiple births. Dr Airhumwunde noted that the high rate of multiple births could be linked to diet, citing multiple studies and fertility treatment.

The specialist who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Crown Global Medicare disclosed this during an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise. He explained,

“Multiple studies have confirmed that Nigeria has a very high prevalence of multiple births in the world, especially the Yoruba of south-western Nigeria and around Ijebu.

“Some have postulated that the cause might be due to the consumption of high level of female hormones present in yam. We call them phytoestrogenes — that is, plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body.

“These are foods that are consumed in very high proportion and are said to contain hormones that increase fertility.

“So, multiple studies have confirmed that and they show that Nigeria has a very high level of multiple births, especially the non-identical twins, possibly due to diet.

“For the non-identical twins which usually result from multiple ovulation and multiple fertilisations, Nigeria has the highest number, and quoted figures range from up to 64 per 1,000 births.”

READ ALSO: What You Should Know If You Are Expecting Twins, Triplets Or More -Fertility Specialist, Dr Abayomi Ajayi

According to Mayo Clinic, sometimes, a twin or triplet pregnancy just happens. The online platform added:

“In other cases, specific factors are at play. For example, a twin pregnancy is more likely as a woman gets older, because hormonal changes can cause more than one egg to be released at a time.”

However, the gynaecologist said despite the high prevalence of multiple births in the country, the rate of infertility is still high among couples.

“Nigeria is actually a paradox, whereby you have high level of natural conception as well as high level of infertility.

“The high rate of infertility has resulted into the growth of fertility treatment in the country. All these have resulted into increase in multiple births in Nigeria.

“So, when you add the two together, you have increase in multiple births and increasing level of preterm delivery, too,”

he said.

The expert further says the survival of babies born from multiple births in Nigeria is dependent on the age at which they were delivered.

“First of all, for twins, the average delivery time is about 36 to 37 weeks. For triplets, it is about 34 weeks; while for quadruplets, it is about 28 weeks.

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“So, the more the foetuses, the earlier the delivery. At the end of the day, the survival of those babies depend on when they are delivered. Again, where they are delivered also matters.

“Rural women and women who lack access to healthcare are at increased risk of pre-term delivery and subsequent death of the babies,”

he said.

According to him, managing pre-term babies in public hospitals is still a challenge in the country owing to the lack of equipment such as incubators, oxygen requirement, and special medications to mature the lungs of the babies.

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He said a lot of investment in terms of equipment and manpower to improve survival of preterm babies in Nigeria was needed.

The United Nations Children’s Fund says more than 400,000 babies are born dead in Nigeria annually.

According to UNICEF, out of more than 2.5 million babies that are born dead globally each year, more than 400,000 stillborn deaths take place in Nigeria.

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