Irish women are giving birth to more twins than ever before for one simple reason- they are leaving it later and later to have children.
While women are now typically leaving it till their 30’s to start a family increasing numbers are having to rely on IVF treatment.
The rate of twins born was 19 per 1,000 pregnancies two years ago – almost double the 11.7 rate in 1991, according to the Central Statistics Office.
As well as 1,189 sets of twins there were 24 sets of triplets and two sets of quadruplets.
The average age of first time mothers has risen to 32 and eight months, while the number of teenage mothers has more than halved in just 10 years from 2,335 in 2006 to 1,101 in 2016.
But as age of first-time mothers increases, so does the demand for IVF treatment – fertilisation outside the womb – to help them conceive.
IVF treatment also increases the chances of as more than one fertilised embryo is implanted to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy.
IVF specialist Dr John Kennedy, of the Sims clinic, told the Irish Daily Mail the link between women delaying their first child and the need for IVF, which raises the likelihood of, was ‘absolutely true’.
Dr Kennedy said there was a rise in the use of IVF between 1991 and 2016, and that ‘an awful lot of that IVF would have been associated with a high twinning-rate’.
But he believes the number of will start to drop as IVF techniques improve and doctors feel less need to implant multiple embryos to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
He added: ‘The age that women are conceiving for the first time, that seems to have plateaued’ at the early 30s.
‘It’s certainly a lot older than it used to be but there’s really obvious reasons, educational reasons, career reasons and finding the right person,’ he said.
The boom has brought double the joy to Irish celebrities. Dublin Gaelic football star, Bernard Brogan, and his wife, Keira Doyle, welcomed in July.