When Kelly Coupland found out she was pregnant, it wasn’t long before she began to suspect she was having twins.
After all, the symptoms were so much more intense than what she’d experienced with her first child: her son, Harry, aged one. And twins run in the family, with Kelly’s nan having had non-identical twin boys many years before.
“With Harry, it was such an easy pregnancy. I had all the usual symptoms – fatigue, nausea – but they were much milder,” Kelly recalls.
“With this pregnancy, I knew very early on that I was expecting, and I was a lot more unwell than I’d been before.
“For me, the fact that I was so sick was a clear indication that I was having twins.”
Kelly, 31, and her husband Dean, 40, were naturally keen to have their suspicions confirmed as soon as possible, opting for a private scan at 10 weeks.
Sure enough, the scan revealed that Kelly and Dean were indeed expecting twins.
“I always wanted twin girls, so to have it confirmed at the scans was amazing – it was as if I’d manifested it!”
Identical twins do not run in families. However, you have around a 1 in 250 chance of conceiving identical twins.
As her pregnancy progressed, Kelly quizzed doctors about whether the twins could be identical. But the possibility seemed more and more unlikely.
“They could tell from the scans that the girls had separate sacs and placentas, meaning they were dichorionic diamniotic (DCDA) twins,” says Kelly.
“Every doctor I spoke to was convinced that this meant the girls were non-identical – but I was still hoping they were wrong.”
Identical twins are formed when a single sperm fertilises an egg, which then goes on to split into two. The result is two embryos with near identical genetic codes.
DCDA twins are often the result of two separately fertilised eggs, meaning that the majority of DCDA twins are fraternal (non-identical).
However, it’s thought that around a third of identical twins are in fact DCDA twins – a fact that many parents of twins may not be aware of.
Identical or non-identical?
Following a challenging pregnancy which included complications and multiple hospital stays, Sienna Grace (3lb 1oz) and Bella Rose (1lb 15oz) were born on 30th March 2022, at just 29 weeks.
It was during their 8-week stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) following the birth that Kelly and Dean began to receive more and more comments from nurses who noticed just how alike the girls seemed to be.
“Because I’d been told it wasn’t possible for them to be identical, I hadn’t thought too much about it. But in the back of my mind, I was still hoping they would be,” Kelly says.
“With what the nurses were saying, it got me thinking about how I could find out for sure.
“It was important to me to be able to answer the question of whether they were identical or not for a few reasons – not least because the odds of having twins again are much higher if you have non-identical twins (fraternal twins). So medically speaking, it was useful to know.”
Spurred on by the thought, Kelly quickly went online and began researching twin DNA testing – also known as zygosity testing – which can be used to determine whether children from multiple births are identical or non-identical using a simple cheek (buccal) swab to collect cheek cell DNA from each sibling.
Armed with these DNA samples, expert geneticists can then analyse and compare the DNA profiles of each sibling to identify matching DNA markers. If most of the DNA markers match, it’s likely they are identical.
“With Sienna and Bella being in NICU, I wanted to make sure the test was non-invasive, so I asked the nurses what was involved,” Kelly adds.
“As soon as I found out all that was needed was a cheek swab sample, I couldn’t wait to order a test!”
Taking the test & getting the results
After shopping around online, Kelly discovered AlphaBiolabs, an accredited DNA testing laboratory.
This accreditation, combined with the price of the test and the promise of rapid results, meant Kelly and Dean knew they were in good hands, opting to order a Twin DNA test online almost immediately.
“As soon as the kit arrived, we were desperate to collect the DNA samples and get them shipped back to AlphaBiolabs’ laboratory,” Kelly continues.
“The instructions in the Twin DNA test kit were really clear and easy to follow, and I liked the fact that there were two sample envelopes included for each of the girls’ cheek swabs – so there was no concern that their test samples would be mixed up if they were non-identical.
“The nurses in NICU helped us to collect the DNA samples using cheek swabs which were rubbed on the inside of Sienna and Bella’s cheeks to collect DNA.”
After posting the samples back to the laboratory, it wasn’t long before the results came in. Sienna and Bella were identical.
“We were absolutely over the moon, as were the rest of the family. Some of them even said it was just as exciting as when they first found out we were having twins,” says Kelly.
“I always dreamed of having identical twin girls, so to have it confirmed was incredible.
“I’m also glad we chose same-day results for the test, as getting the results back so quickly made the whole experience even more special.”
With Sienna and Bella now out of NICU and doing well at home, Kelly and Dean are settling into life as a family of five and are thrilled to say they are parents to identical twin girls – officially.
Kelly adds: “For any parents of twins who are unsure about getting a DNA test, I would say just do it!
“I didn’t think twice about finding out whether my girls were identical or not. It’s such a huge piece of information not only for you as parents, but for the children as they grow up.
“It’s the first question people ask when they know you’re a parent to twins: are they identical or not?
“I love that we now have an answer.”
Where can I buy a twin DNA (zygosity) test?
Inspired by Kelly and Dean’s story?
It’s easy to order Ireland’s fastest, most conclusive Twin DNA test online now, direct from our accredited DNA laboratory.
For just €139 you can get the answers you need with next-day results included in the cost of your test, or upgrade to same-day results for an extra €50.
Your secure results will be emailed to you and will include a zygosity certificate: the perfect keepsake for multiple birth parents.
You can read Kelly’s birth story here, and follow the Couplands on Instagram (@athomewith_thecouplands) for updates on Sienna and Bella’s progress.
Got a question about our Twin DNA test? Email email@example.com or call our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 for expert advice.
Identical or non-identical?
Order Ireland’s fastest, most conclusive Twin DNA test. Direct from our accredited laboratory.