Entries in Twins (27)


Arizona Twins Suffer Strokes at 26, Just Months Apart

Courtesy Barrow Neurological Institute(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Kathryn Tucker, a senior care coordinator for an Arizona insurance company, had just gone to bed when she felt a sharp pain the back of her head on the right side before her vision went out and she went numb.

Her brother was at her Tempe, Ariz., apartment and got her to the hospital where doctors at first dismissed her symptoms as a migraine with aura. But Tucker, only 26, was having a stroke.

"I was absolutely terrified," said Tucker, who was sent home from the emergency room that day in July 2012 without medical intervention.

"I slept for three days straight," she said. "Then, when I woke up, my vision was horrible. Everything was distorted and one-dimensional. I could barely get around."

Her health deteriorated so she ended up going to an urgent care facility, where tests showed she had, indeed, had a stroke.

Nine months later to the day, her twin sister, Kimberly Tucker, suffered a stroke in exactly the same way, except on the left side. Kimberly Tucker had left school in Tucson to take care of her sister after her stroke. Then in April, their roles reversed.

The Tucker girls are fraternal twins and do not share the same DNA, and there is no family history of stroke, so doctors said there is no genetic cause. Both suffered a stroke on opposite sides of the occipital lobe, which sends visual input from the brain to the retinas.

"Honestly, it's rare for us to actually evaluate two sisters who've had strokes within months of each other," said Dr. Joni Clark, a vascular neurologist at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. "If they had a family history, it would not be a surprise. It's quite uncommon."

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which observes National Stroke Month in May.

About one-third of strokes are believed to occur in people younger than 65. For those younger than 45, the stroke risk has jumped 14 to 20 percent, according to Clark.

"We see this mainly among young people who have risk factors that you should see in elderly patients.

"Here at Barrow, we see a huge population of stroke patients -- and, in my own experience, which is anecdotal, I see a fair number of young people with stroke," said Clark. "The majority are spontaneous."

Obesity, which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, is a risk.

"You'd also be surprised how many young adults don't exercise," said Clark. "It's sad, because the rise is due to good, old stroke risk factors that shouldn't happen when they are young."

The twins also shared lifestyle traits that doctors said are linked to an increase in the incidence of strokes among young people. Both girls were smokers. They were also migraine sufferers and had been taking birth control pills.

It was discovered later that Kathryn Tucker had a PFO, or patent foramen ovale, a small hole in the heart that may have contributed to her stroke.

"There were several things that probably all together put Kathryn at risk," said Clark, who treated Kathryn Tucker, but not her sister.

Kathryn Tucker said her prognosis is "really good" now that she has stopped smoking and taking the pill.

The twins said they were also worried about their overuse of caffeinated energy drinks -- three to four a day, although there is no medical evidence linking those drinks to stroke.

"Don't think you are impervious to stroke," said Kimberly Tucker, who is still undergoing therapy. "We think we are invincible until we are not. This taught us a huge lesson that we are not guaranteed great health and we need to take care of our bodies."

Kimberly Tucker, unlike her sister, did not have a PFO and was an avid runner.

"On the day of my stroke I did a 5K run," she said. "I was feeling extra thirsty the whole time and went home to take a nap."

When she woke up, Kimberly Tucker felt a sharp pain on the left side of the back of her head.

"My vision closed in almost completely," she said. "I wasn't making a lot of sense and was not able to form complete thoughts. But I knew I was having a stroke."

Remembering what her twin sister had gone though, she immediately called 911, then her sister, who told her to take her blood thinners, a move that might have saved her life.

"I instantly knew I had a stroke because I was suffering from many of the same symptoms as my sister," says Kimberly Tucker. "The EMTs told me that the chance of both me and my sister having a stroke this young was that of being struck by lightning twice. They thought I was suffering from dehydration or heat stroke."

Later, doctors discovered Kimberly Tucker had arrhythmia, which may have been a contributing factor to her stroke.

Today, both girls are doing well after occupational and speech therapy, though they still have some visual deficits and are not allowed to drive.

"I still notice some weakness when I am tired," Kathryn Tucker said. "Otherwise, I am fine, physically back to normal."

"We are super close," said Kimberly Tucker of her twin. "I think we always have been close, but this definitely brought us closer. Honestly, she is the only person who understands because we are going through it together."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Twin Girls from Gaza Get Chance to Walk Thanks to Prosthetics

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- For many parents, seeing their child walk for the first time is a memorable experience, but for Itaf Shallouf, seeing her daughters’ first steps seemed like a miracle. Her twin girls were born without functional legs.

Shallouf’s daughters, who are 2, suffered from a type of congenital deficiency that left them without the tibia bone in their lower legs, leaving them unable to walk. Without treatment it was likely that Lamise Shallouf and her sister Rimas would have spent much of their lives in wheelchairs.

But the toddlers are now taking their first steps, thanks in part to the help of the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, which works to bring children from the Middle East to the U.S. for medical treatment.


The girls arrived with their mother in November and have undergone a series of surgeries and prosthetic fittings at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Los Angeles.

Lamise had to have both of her lower legs removed, while Rimas only had one leg removed. But only a few months after their surgery both girls are already on the move, thanks to pint-size prosthetics. Lamise wears short prosthetics called “stubbies” that have treads on the bottom that work like built-in sneakers. Rimas was given a straight leg prosthesis and in a few years will be given a knee unit that will allow her to bend her leg.

“It was difficult, but thank God. God somehow helps us to pull through,” Shallouf told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV.

Lulu Emery, who works for the Southern California chapter of the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, has been with the girls as they have endured numerous doctor visits over the last few months and is amazed at how well they have reacted to treatment.

“They’ve adjusted so much,” said Emery. “Now they flirt with the staff in the hospital and everyone loves them.”

The girls will go back with their mother to live in Gaza, but next year they are expected to temporarily return to the U.S. for follow-up treatments.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Conjoined Twins Separated in Time for Christmas

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Twins Allison June and Amelia Lee Tucker sat on Santa’s lap at just 10 months old.  The jolly man in the red suit held one girl in each arm.

It was a sight that would have been impossible a few weeks ago because the girls were born joined at the chest.  It took a team of 40 doctors working seven hours to separate them.

On Monday, Allison -- the smaller of the two -- went home.  Amelia will stay in the hospital through the holidays.

Both girls are expected to live full, healthy lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


10-Month-Old Twins Swim Length of Pool; Still Can’t Walk or Talk

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- They can’t walk, they can’t talk -- but these 10-month-old twins sure can swim.

Ellie and William Trykush can already swim the entire length of a 25-foot pool without the assistance of their mother, a swim instructor.
The family discovered this hidden talent, when the twins, both born six weeks premature by emergency cesarean section, when vacationing in Cyprus, according to Britain's Daily Mail.  The babies began swimming underwater without flotation aids or help from their parents, Victor and Charlotte.

When the family returned from their trip, Charlotte took the children to the local pool where they each swam the entire 25-foot length of the pool, working their way up from five meters. The twins' mother swam underneath them on her back for their safety.

At 10 months, the twins now attend swim lessons twice each weekend, and swim for additional practice on the weekend, the Daily Mail reports.

Their father said he has his eyes set on the 2028 Olympics for his aquatic overachievers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Father in Iraq Watches Birth of Twins Via Skype

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WHITEFISH, Mont.) -- No mountain was high enough, no river was wide enough, and no valley was low enough to keep one Montana man from watching the birth of his baby twins on Sept. 25 at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, Mont.

Jon Zimbelman, 31, Skyped with his wife, Erin, all the way from Basrah, Iraq, where he works as a contractor in the private sector, to watch the delivery of his now-2-week-old twins, Braylon and Brielle.

Erin Zimbelman, 32, of Kalispell, Mont., was worried the hospital might not allow the Skype session to occur, but got the final approval just in time for the babies to arrive.

“I just told him, go get to hard line, go to your office, be ready,” Zimbelman told ABC News.

Because Zimbelman was giving birth to twins, the delivery had to take place in the operating room, where Internet connections are not normally allowed. The anesthesiologist had the final say, and he eventually agreed to allow the iPad in the room.

Zimbelman said she’s gotten nothing but positive feedback about the experience.

“I hope other people will be able to do it, or that hospitals won’t say ‘no’ right away. That was my main concern. No one gave me an answer until the day of, a couple hours before we were doing it all, so it was really nerve-racking,” Zimbelman said.

But the pregnancy also had its complications.

Zimbelman’s mother unexpectedly passed away on July 6, so he used the one trip allowed to him to return home for her funeral.

“My husband’s mom died and so he had to come home for that instead of coming home for the birth,” Zimbelman said. “He had visa entry issues. It was only a one-entry visa.”

So she had to come up with a plan B for him to still be there for the babies.

“I haven’t heard of anybody doing it,” Zimbelman said. “I don’t know if I’m the first or whatnot. But I had to come up with plan B.”

The hospital, knowing she’d need extra help pulling off the Skyping idea, allowed Zimbelman’s friend in the delivery room.

“He got to the see the babies before me, so he was excited,” said Zimbelman. “My girlfriend held up the iPad so he could watch everything that was going on. He said it was life-changing for him. A couple years ago, this would be impossible.”

Zimbelman was worried about the Internet connection working properly because, “Usually Iraq has pretty bad Internet connection, but it was flawless the whole way through.”

The babies are now happy and healthy, but still awaiting their first meeting in person with their father. Hopefully, he can make it home for the holidays.

“They’re doing great,” Zimbelman said. “They are the best babies. They’re sleeping good and are just precious.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twin Study Shows Moisturizing, Breast Feeding Stall Breast Aging

James Woodson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Breast feeding, daily moisturizing and hormone replacement therapy can make a woman's breasts appear more beautiful, but smoking, drinking alcohol and having multiple pregnancies can take an aesthetic toll, according to researchers.

A study of identical twins published Tuesday in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, titled "Determinants of Breast Appearance and Aging in Twins," shows environmental factors play a key role in how a woman's breasts age.

Other factors like higher body mass index (BMI) and larger bra and cup sizes also contribute to accelerated breast aging, according to the study.

An estimated 316,848 women had breast augmentations and 127,054 had breast lifts performed in 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Now, women can identify lifestyle behaviors that can slow the aging process to avoid surgical intervention, according to the study, which was funded by a grant from the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation.

For the last three years, plastic surgeon Hooman T. Soltanian of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, studied 161 pairs of twins.

"It's very rare that both twins have been through the same exact environmental factors throughout life," he said.  "The idea was that they have the same [breasts] from a genetic standpoint.  If we see a difference, it's more likely to be environmental factors."

Soltanian collected data from consenting women between the ages of 25 and 74 at the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsberg, Ohio.  The average age of the study's participants was 45.5 years old.

"The twins come from all over the country for a weekend to have fun and celebrate," he said.  "We have been using that opportunity to study their breasts.  It's not a longitudinal study, but a cross-sectional study."

The study had two parts.  First, each set of twins was given a questionnaire on lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, number of pregnancies, use of a bra, stress at work, sports, hormone replacement therapy, moisturizing and exposure to the sun.  Each twin answered independently.

Then, photos of the twins' breasts were taken "in a secluded area by professionals."  Those photos were "subjectively evaluated by independent reviewers."

Soltanian acknowledged there is "no objective measurement" for what makes a breast "beautiful."  But researchers looked for skin tone, droopiness, shape and areola size.

Moisturizing seemed an "obvious" advantage on a breast's appearance, showing fewer wrinkles, according to Soltanian.  

Those who received hormone replacement therapy after menopause had more attractive breast shape, size, projection, areolar shape and areolar size.

The study seemed to refute myths about the negative effects of nursing a baby, findings that even surprised Soltanian.  Even though the size and shape of the areola had suffered, the skin quality was better in women who breast fed.

"All these twins did not breast-feed without being pregnant and pregnancy has a negative effect on breast appearance," he said.  "My explanation is that women who breast fed have a different hormonal milieu -- sort of like internal hormone replacement.  So even though those were disadvantages, they gained some benefit."

Soltanian, who does reconstructive surgeries for women after breast cancer, said this twin research could be expanded to longitudinal studies that look for environmental influences when one twin has cancer and the other doesn't.

As for the study's importance, he said, "It's obvious to me that breast appearance and breast health as a whole are a major part of female health."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Oldest US Mom of Twins Is 65 and 'More Excited' Than Ever

Frieda Birnbaum(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to taking motherhood to an extreme, Frieda Birnbaum is unsurpassed -- literally.  In 2007, at age 60, she became the oldest American woman to give birth to twins.

Today, at age 65, the New Jersey woman says she's still going strong, chasing after her two five-year-old boys -- Josh and Jarrett -- and also caring for her 12-year-old son, Ari.  Birnbaum had her first child when she was 26, but says she feels more energetic now than she did back then.

"I am definitely more energetic," she told 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas.  "We have to redefine age, 'cause it's changed."

Although Birnbaum may be an outlier, it's clear that the average age of motherhood is on the rise.  As more women focus on their careers in their 20s and 30s, they are increasingly putting off motherhood, and the overall U.S. birth rate has declined.  But women in their early 40s are bucking the trend, seeing the highest birth rates for their age group since 1967, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Birnbaum and her husband, Ken, first became parents 35 years ago, when she gave birth to their son Jaeson.  Four years later, she had her second child, Alana.

After their children grew up, the Birnbaums became empty-nesters -- and they didn't like it.

"I had this biological urge that couldn't be stopped.  When I saw a baby, I just wanted to take that baby away and run. You know, hold it and hug it," Frieda Birnbaum said.  "As you get older, I've found I have more of an urge to have children than when I was younger."

Birnbaum says she became pregnant naturally in her forties but miscarried.  Then she began in vitro fertilization treatments; she will not disclose whether she used her own eggs or donor eggs.  At 53, she gave birth to her third child, Ari.

"It was just such a wonderful experience.  I said, 'You know what?  I mean, we could do it again,'" said Ken Birnbaum.

The Birnbaums decided to pursue IVF again when Frieda was in her late 50s, but there was a hitch.  Doctors in the United States refused to perform the procedure because of her age.

And they weren't the only ones voicing disapproval.

"Jaeson was angry at me," Frieda said of her oldest son, who is now in his 30s and has two children of his own.  "(He) said we were crazy."

Birnbaum was able to get pregnant with the twins at age 59 with the help of a clinic in South Africa, where she said doctors seemed less concerned about her age.  When pressed, Birnbaum admits she "may have" told doctors that she was younger than she was.

Watch the full story Friday night on ABC's 20/20 at 9 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Conjoined Twins Say They Have a 'Normal Life'

Courtesy TLC(NEW YORK) -- Abby and Brittany Hensel are close -- very close.  They may have two separate brains, hearts and sets of lungs, but they share everything else, including, as they say, "a normal life ... whatever that is."

The 22-year-olds from rural Minnesota are identical conjoined twins and their physiology has never stood in the way.  There are compromises that have to be made -- Abby controls the right side of the body and Brittany the left -- but they move with remarkable ease, riding a bike, dancing at parties and even driving a car.

Their updated story, Abby & Brittany, told in documentary form when they were 12 and again at 16, will air Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 10 p.m. on TLC.

When the twins were born in 1990, their parents were told the babies might not survive the night.  But by age 6, they were appearing on Oprah and the cover of Life magazine.

"People have been curious about us since we were born, for obvious reasons," say the twins in the first episode of the eight-week series.  "But our parents never let us use that as an excuse.  We were raised to believe we could do anything we wanted to do."

"The most amazing thing about us is we are like everyone else," they chime together.

The TLC docu-series follows the women's social lives as they prepare to graduate from Minnesota's Bethel College and embark on travel to Europe searching for a teaching job.

Conjoined twins occur once out of every 200,000 live births, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, but about 40 to 60 percent of them are stillborn and only about 35 percent survive one day.

Girls seem to do better medically.  About 70 percent of conjoined twins who survive are female.

Conjoined twins are genetically identical, and are, therefore, always the same sex.  They develop from the same fertilized egg, and they share the same amniotic cavity and placenta.

"All conjoined twinning is really uncommon," says Dr. Christopher Moir, a pediatric surgeon and medical director at the Mayo Clinic's Children's Center.  "But the chance of a mother delivering a set of conjoined twins and their surviving is one in a million."

Conjoining occurs in the earliest weeks of gestation, according to Moir, "sometimes before the mother even knows she is pregnant."

There are no genetic or environmental influences that cause conjoining, he says, "just a happy accident of embryos."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NY Mom on Way to Hospital Delivers Twins on Two Different Highways

Declan (L) and Gavin (R). (Courtesy Deirdre Shea)(NEW YORK) -- Before a very pregnant Siobhan Anderson left her Amityville, N.Y., home early Saturday morning to deliver twin baby boys, her mother told her, "You'd better not give birth on the Northern State Parkway."

She didn't.  Instead, she gave birth on two other Long Island highways -- Southern State Parkway and Wantagh State Parkway.

Siobhan and Bryan Anderson expected to welcome their twin baby boys next Friday, but Siobhan's water broke at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning -- nearly a full week early, Bryan said.

Heeding their doctor's advice not to rush or panic, they took their time and got into the car at about 7 a.m.

Siobhan said she felt a big contraction, and suddenly felt the baby's head a few minutes after they pulled onto Southern State Parkway.  She told her husband he was going to have to deliver the twins right there on the side of the road.

"She kept screaming, 'The babies are coming,'" he said.  "I was like, 'I think we have time to at least get to the hospital.'"

Siobhan told Bryan to pull over near Exit 30, where he called 911.  Once EMTs arrived, Siobhan told them she couldn't move from the car because she was "holding the baby in," but they didn't believe her because even most emergency births aren't immediate, she said.

"They were helping her out of the car and into the stretcher and that's when Gavin was born," he said.  "Born right there on Southern State Parkway."  It was 7:35 a.m.  Gavin was 6 pounds, 12 ounces.

"As soon as I moved, he came out," she laughed.  "He was born at 7:35 in the open air."

Once Siobhan delivered the first baby, EMTs got her in the ambulance.  The plan was to drive to the nearest hospital in time for her second son to be delivered.

Meanwhile, Bryan got back in his car and followed the ambulance, calling his brother-in-law to calm himself down.

But less than 10 minutes later, the ambulance pulled over on Wantagh State Parkway.

Confused, Bryan said he jumped out of the car.  EMTs told him "baby number two" was coming, and let him in the back door of the ambulence.

At 7:46 a.m., Declan was born at 5 pounds, 15 ounces.

"I sat right behind her," he said.  "It was an unbelievable experience."

They walked into the Nassau University Medical Center with both babies in-hand.

"We were just in shock," Siobhan said.  "I'm still in shock that it happened.  I can't believe I was able to do that."

She said the scariest part was that she knew she had to give birth naturally, even though she'd thought that she needed an epidural before she even left the house.

Siobhan, Gavin, and Declan will be able to go home Friday to be with Dad and their big brother, Dylan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twin Sisters Give Birth on Same Day

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) -- Zaakira Mitchell and Shaakira White, both 20, didn’t plan to get pregnant within weeks of each other, nor did they ever expect to become mothers on the same day.  But on July 24, that is exactly what happened.

Mitchell, whose due date was July 26, elected to be induced July 24 and arrived at Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital in Columbia, S.C., accompanied by her twin sister.

White, due on Aug. 16, had scheduled a check-up that day and told her doctor she had been having contractions that morning.

“We checked to make sure she wasn’t going into early labor. Well, not only was she going into early labor, she was five to six centimeters dilated,” said Dr. David Ferguson, who was physician to both sisters.

White, who had gone to the hospital to support her sister, was soon being prepared for a cesarean section.

“The whole thing was very exciting. All of a sudden all this family who had been there for Zaakira were suddenly there for Shaakira as well,” said Dr. Ferguson.

Mitchell gave birth to a boy, Kadin, just one hour before White gave birth to twins, Landon and London.

“Once we were assured Zaakira was stable after her delivery, we went right from there prepping Shaakirah,” said Dr. Ferguson.

The sisters said they were thrilled that all three cousins would share the same birthday.

“She’s my best friend so for us to share this, it was really special and it was really emotional,” Mitchell told ABC-affiliate WOLO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio