More milk and more meat
is leading to more twins?
New research suggests that a diet high in dairy products can greatly increase a woman's chances of having twins.
A study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine showed milk drinkers were five times more likely to have twins than women who ate no animal products.
The numbers of twins in the world has increased significantly in the past 30 years, in some countries by over 50%.
It is believed that a protein found in the livers of animals may be the cause. Called Insulin-like Growth Factor or IGF, it is found in cow's milk and other animal products.
In women it makes the ovaries more sensitive and increases the number of eggs produced. Higher levels of IGF improve the survival chances of an embryo in the early stages of development.
The effect is likely to be greater in countries such as the United States that allow growth hormones to be fed to cattle.
The researcher behind this study says that women thinking of getting pregnant might consider alternatives to meat and dairy products to reduce their chances of having twins, as multiple births are more prone to complications.
Maybe the commercial tagline for the US milk industry should have been "Got twins?" Or for the more cynical among us how about "Got complications?"