Vanishing Twin Phenomenon: What Is It?

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Image via Flickr/ JerryLai0208

What are the chances of this happening?

In a birth of multiples, just as in all pregnancies, there is a chance of miscarriage. Ten to twenty-five percent of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, but in the case of multiples, there is a 21% to 30% chance that at least one of the babies will be miscarried. 

In addition to the normal chances of a baby being miscarried, women who are more advanced in age will be more likely to have a miscarriage. Women who are above the age of 30 are at a higher risk of experiencing VTP.

{ MORE: Dealing with a Late Miscarriage }

And while the odds of a miscarriage happening in a monozygotic pregnancy (twins that are born from a single egg) and in a dizygotic pregnancy (twins that are conceived from their own egg) are pretty much the same, a contributing factor to VTP in the monozygotic pregnancy could be the sharing of the same placenta.

What are the effects on the mother and the surviving baby?

If VTP happens during the first trimester of pregnancy, then there is less of a risk of noticeable physical effects on the mother's body due to the lack of fetal development, so she'll be able to go along with a normal pregnancy. However, if the VTP happens after the first trimester, there is a possibility that the mother “may experience pre-term labor, infection, or hemorrhaging.” 

In most cases, there is no lasting physical issue for the surviving baby, but depending on the amount of development that occurred in the deceased child, he or she may take on what is called a tertoma tumor, which is a growth made up of remaining tissue that attaches itself to the surviving baby. There is also evidence that if the VTP occurred after week 20, there is a greater chance of the surviving child being born with cerebral palsy. Additionally, there is the emotional aspect of the loss to contend with, for both the mother and the surviving twin. 

{ MORE: 4 Online Support Sites for Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Neonatal Loss }

In all cases, of VTP, there are options for help, whether that be physically or emotional. Organizations such as Twinless Twins Support Group and Center for Loss in Multiple Birth provide resources.

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Vanishing Twin Phenomenon: What Is It?

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9 comments

  1. Misty says:

    I am 19wks Pregnant, and was suppposed to be having twins, had two sacs but one had and egg the other empty, but so far so good I have a healthy baby and find the sex next week, Ive had two misscarriages, But I know God is blessed me with this one! 😉

  2. Aileen says:

    This happened to me. Only one heart beat. And I had spotting for a few days.

  3. susan says:

    This happened to by brother and his wife. But they have a healthy happy baby girl

  4. latrice says:

    I have unfortunately experienced this. We learned at 10 wks we were having twins, saw two babies and two heartbeats.During our 13wk anatomy scan there was only 1 baby visible and 1 heartbeat… Doctor called it vanishing twin syndrome & before that I too never knew it existed. I’m now 26 wks and baby is fine. Its a bitter sweet feeling. Having lost a life and still have one going strong.

  5. Heather says:

    We lost my daughter’s twin.

  6. verochka31 says:

    unimaginable! wow ever heard of such before. God help and Bless all the pregnant women out there.

  7. LaurieHale says:

    This happened to my mother while she was pregnant with me. Makes me sad. Wish my twin had survived.

    • Katherine says:

      I understand I had a son in June and my placenta had burst I had a goo pregnancy all the way through and one day I was going to the hospital my son never mad it but here I am having a one again around the same time June 10 my first son was born June 12 of 2014 I’m due again June 10 of 2015 me and my sister is due around the same time

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