They’re not that rare.
I mean, yeah, they’re rare. But every time I see another news story about identical triplets being born, I can’t help but roll my eyes. I mean, I know it’s dumb, but these news articles irritate me so much. It’s not the stories themselves that bug me, but the misinformation in them.
The odds aren’t one in a million (or one in a hundred million, which amuses me to no end) like so many news articles love to report. I’m no statistician, but more mathematically-inclined people I trust have put the odds at somewhere between 1:60,000 births and 1:100,000. (Those three articles are just from the past month! How is this newsworthy?)
From an ID triplet dad that I trust:
Old statistics (Hellin’s Law) showed that twins are 1 in 89, triplets are 1 in 89^2 (7921). About 6% of triplets are identical, and so roughly 1 in 130,000. Of course multiples are about 5 to 6 times more common now than way back when this was figured out, so roughly 1 in 20,000-25,000.
I mean, just look at my sidebar…if they were that rare, would little old me know that many sets, let alone that many sets who have parents who blog?
(I had to laugh that even Benedict Cumberbatch threw out a less-than-likely figure of one in 500,000 births on the Sherlock episode I watched last night, but I won’t blame him. Just the show’s writer’s for believing Wikipedia.)
And there’s a Facebook group for parents of identical triplets, with 140 members. I can’t say there are 140 sets represented by the group, since sometimes both parents belong, but if there were truly that rare, could the membership be so large?
Why do I get so aggravated? Maybe it’s because when it makes the news, the articles get shared on my Facebook wall, and then I have to read that stupid statistic over and over and over again.
And you know what’s worse than the statistic? The fact that every single article loves to swoon over how the triplets were “natural.” You know what’s more rare than spontaneous identical triplets? Identical triplets resulting from IVF or other fertility treatments. Now those are the really rare identical triplets. Those sets are the ones that I find amazing and incredible. How wonderful that a family that badly wanted one child got three instead! (I know it’s not that simple, but you know what I mean.)
You gotta love the comments you see on these articles. My favorite is “identical triplets can’t exist – only twins or quads.”
Maybe deep down, I’m just jealous. God knows I love the attention, ha! But we did get on the news when the boys were born, so I don’t think it’s that. And don’t think I have any negative feelings towards the parents here. What parent wouldn’t be thrilled to show their babies off on national TV? I was!
(We didn’t know ours were identical until they were 3 months old, since I had an idiotic OB/GYN who didn’t know how to read an ultrasound.)
I guess I just wish the doctors and reporters would do a bit more research before pumping out another article about yet another trio of cute babies that happen to share the same genetic code. Hopefully those parents are at least getting free diapers out of it…