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Name: Ruby
Status: Educator
Grade:  Other
Location: N/A
Country: United States
Date: October 2007

My husband has had twins running in his family. Is it more likely for twins to come from the mother's or father's side of the family?

With regard to fraternal twins, since these twins are the result of multiple ovulation, these is no way this could be influenced by the biological father or his relatives.

Ron Baker, Ph.D.

There are two kinds of twins, identical and fraternal. There is no known genetic / heredity cause of identical twins. So if a family has multiple instances of identical twins, it's just chance.

As for fraternal twins, the probability may be influenced by heredity, but it's not gender-specific. I have read in non-scientific literature that there is a gene for hyper-ovulation, found on the X chromosome. Hyperovulation means releasing more than one egg during ovulation, which can result in fraternal twins. I have not verified this in scientific literature, and the topic is outside my field of expertise. Both males and females can have this gene, as both males and females have an X chromosome. Of course, only females ovulate, so males carry the gene, but do not express it. The probability of having twins is higher in mothers with the gene, but she can get that gene from either her father or her mother. The odds are not gender-influenced, though. If the mother's family has more instances of fraternal twins, then perhaps they carry a gene for hyperovulation, and perhaps the mother carries that gene as well. The same is true for the father.

In your case, your husband having multiple instances of twins in his family will not cause you to be more likely to have twins. Your genes came from your family, and having twins is determined by you, not by him (his sperm would fertilize whichever eggs you ovulate -- whether it's one or more than one).

Hope this helps,

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