Celebrating twins in Igbo-Ora: the ‘Twin Capital of the World’

Celebrating twins in Igbo-Ora: the ‘Twin Capital of the World’

As a DNA testing laboratory offering twin DNA (zygosity) testing, we recognise the special nature of twin births.

But there’s one place in the world that goes a step further – where twins are celebrated as a blessing, and people are disappointed if they do not give birth to twins; Igbo-Ora, in south-western Nigeria.

Birth rates

There certainly appears to be a higher-than-usual number of twin births in Igbo-Ora – the self-proclaimed ‘Twin Capital of the World’ – with twin births accounting for around 45 per 1,000 births.

This is significantly higher than the global average birth rate for twins, which is around 12 per 1,000 births.

In Yoruba culture, which predominates south-western Nigeria, twin births are considered a blessing, and their names are chosen long before conception and birth.

Regardless of gender, the eldest twin is named Taiwo, meaning “the one who tests the world”, and the youngest, Kehinde, meaning “the one who came after”.

Why are there so many twins in Igbo-Ora?

Researchers are investigating the possible cause of the exceedingly high number of twin births in Igbo-Ora, including whether natural chemicals in the local food might play a part in causing women to product multiple eggs.

Most twin births in Igbo-Ora are fraternal or non-identical twins. These twins are dizygotic and are formed when two separate eggs are fertilised by two separate sperms.

And while many local people attribute their enhanced fertility to a dish called ‘ilasa’, made from okra leaves that are boiled with salt, spices, locust beans and melon seeds, researchers are of the opinion that genetics may have more to do with it.

Prof Akinola Kehinde Akinlabi – who is himself a twin – and rector of the Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology in Igbo-Ora, says that someone who is born a twin in this part of the world will not find it difficult to find a spouse.

“Twins are venerated almost as deities who bring good fortune and protection,” he says.

“People present twins and their families with gifts, money and offers of help. All that encourages people to marry those from twin-producing families.”

It is also hoped that Igbo-Ora will soon be recognised by Guinness World Records thanks to its phenomenal rates of fertility, with nearly every home in town having at least one set of twins living there.

The town even launched an international twin festival several years ago.

Prof Akinlabi hopes that this focus will lead to greater investment for the wider community, including in improved healthcare facilities. 

Twin DNA testing you can trust

The research being undertaken in Igbo-Ora highlights the global fascination with twins, and understanding the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to this remarkable occurrence.

At AlphaBiolabs, we are proud to play a part in acknowledging the special nature of twin births, with our Twin DNA test.

Whether you are a twin sibling or a parent of twins, a DNA test is the only way to find out for sure whether multiple birth children are genetically identical or not.

This is especially useful for birth parents who have previously been told that their children are not identical, as many children who do not look alike have in fact been found to be genetically identical when tested!

The same can also be true of twins who are thought to be identical due to looking alike, who are then found to be non-identical.

Our Twin DNA test – also known as a zygosity test – is performed by collecting a sample of cheek cell DNA from each sibling, using a cheek (buccal) swab.

The twin DNA test is also not exclusive to twin births – we can DNA test up to five siblings from the same pregnancy. Simply tell us how many siblings need to be tested when placing your order.

You will also receive a DNA certificate detailing the test results and each individual’s DNA profile – a unique keepsake for multiple birth siblings or parents.

Need more information on our Twin DNA Test? Call our friendly, knowledgeable Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 or email info@alphabiolabs.ie.  

Twin DNA Test

Find out whether multiple birth siblings are genetically identical, with our at-home DNA test.