Published: Fri, March 01, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Semi-identical twins identified in pregnancy for first time

Semi-identical twins identified in pregnancy for first time

The first set of semi-identical twins was identified in 2007 in the US, when they were infants; this is the first time semi-identical twins have been identified in the womb, according to the report.

Prof Fisk said after extensive genetic testing to rule out chromosomal abnormalities, they concluded the most likely scenario was the mother's egg was simultaneously fertilised by two of the father's sperm before dividing.

The boy and the girl, now four, from Brisbane, in Australia, are identical on their mother's side. They are the first to have been observed in utero (in the womb).

These twins were formed when a single egg was fertilized by two sperm - something that shouldn't happen, Dr. Nicholas Fisk, who participated in the study and serves as the deputy vice chancellor of research at the University of New South Wales, told CNN.

Semi-identical twins are extremely rare.

A pair of Australian twins had researchers scratching their heads when it was discovered they were neither identical nor fraternal, but semi-identical siblings.

However, the 14-week scan showed a boy and a girl, meaning there was no way they could be identical.

The sister and brother share identical DNA from their mother, but not from their father, New Scientist reported.

Once an egg is fertilized, it becomes impenetrable to other sperm, so Gabbett believes that the two sperm must have arrived at the egg at the same time.

"Three sets of chromosomes are typically incompatible with life", he said in the statement. A resulting chromosomal investigation found the twins to share 100% of their mother's DNA but only half of their father's.

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Fraternal twins happen when two separate eggs are fertilised by their own sperm.

To get a better understanding of how rare sesquizygosis twins are, the researchers went on to examine the genes of almost 1,000 other twins and didn't find another case of semi-identical twins, nor did they find evidence of the condition in a previous study from another research team that examined DNA from more than 20,000 twins. Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the Queensland University of Technology combed through almost 1,000 cases of twins to confirm their findings.

The first sesquizygotic twins were identified in 2007.

The researchers say it appears that after fertilization, the DNA from the egg and two sperm divided, then got divvied up to create three embryos.

"We know this is an exceptional case of semi-identical twins", Fisk said in a QUT news release.

They were brought to the attention of doctors because one had "ambiguous" genitalia.

"We at first questioned whether there were perhaps other cases which had been wrongly classified or not reported, so examined genetic data from 968 fraternal twins and their parents", he said.

"While doctors may keep this in mind in apparently identical twins, its rarity means there is no case for routine genetic testing".

After birth, one twin experienced a blood clot that required the amputation of one arm, the authors wrote. Three years later, doctors discovered that the same twin had a condition called gonadal dysgenesis, a condition affecting the development of the body's sex organs.

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