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Issue 34, Christmas 2023

In this edition:

Best wishes for the holiday season & 2024

Our heartfelt gratitude to our members and supporters for your help throughout the year. Please enjoy the stories below about our studies in 2023, and discoveries that are helping to improve the lives of many. None of these achievements would have been possible without twins and their families. We wish you and your family a happy, safe and relaxing festive season – and we look forward to sharing many exciting new initiatives with you in 2024. 

Please note, TRA will be closing for the Christmas/New Year holiday period from 5.00pm Friday 16 December. We will return on Wednesday 17 January 2024, and thank you for your patience while we respond to any queries.

 FEASST study participants, Royden and Pierson Budge

Major health discoveries thanks to twins  

Our members can be very proud of their contributions to recent health discoveries through their participation in studies. We share some of the highlights below. 

Thank you to twins who have joined the study, How Diet Impacts Male Fertility (AKA the FEASST study). Open to male twins – identical and fraternal – aged 18-45 in Melbourne and surrounds, it includes $300 reimbursement for each twin, and all meals and snacks for three weeks (valued at $1,000). After a 12-month search, researchers have found a handful of pairs, but more are urgently needed. Like to know what is involved? Who better to ask than Melbourne twins, Royden and Pierson Budge, who are FEASST participants. Read their story 
With pressures on Australia's healthcare system, many people are finding it difficult to access health services. Launched in mid 2023, TRA’s Health Behaviours (Online) Questionnaire aims to understand Australian adults use of the healthcare system across a range of services including cancer screening. Thanks to your wonderful response with 4,367 participants so far – more participants are welcome to join.  Open to all adult twins and higher order multiples. Learn more

The Monash University study, Resilience and Vulnerability to Mental Health Problems, has just finished collection of close to 1,000 saliva samples from TRA members. They are so thankful for this great response! Over the next year, they will be extracting and analysing these samples in the hope of finding genes associated with mental health resilience and vulnerability. After analysis of samples, zygosity testing results will be provided to those who consented to receive that information – DNA extraction is a slow process so this will take a while for their small team to get through all samples. Visit the study page  

Other important studies during 2023 include: the Victorian Population Twin Study, Twins and Sisters Mammographic Density, and Generation Victoria (GenV).

Full 2023 progress of studies here

Federal Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney, meets multiple-birth families as part of AMBA’'s campaign

AMBA campaign advocates for multiple birth parents

TRA continues its support of the Australian Multiple Birth Association’s public campaign, Equality of Support for Parents of Multiples. "Our long-term and ongoing research supports the key issues raised by the campaign, principally, that multiple-birth babies and their families face serious disadvantage, including greater risk of pregnancy complications and premature birth as well as financial, psychological and social support challenges" TRA Director, Professor John Hopper said. "All of us involved must work together to bring urgently needed change to policies and practices that hinder equality for parents of multiples."

Multiple-birth pregnancy more than double the cost

With only around 1.5 percent of all Australian births annually involving twins (or higher order multiples), most people are unaware of what life is like for multiple-birth parents. A team of researchers, including TRA, are aiming to improve understanding. They have recently released a report looking at pregnancy and birth experiences, use of health services, and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses between women who have twins and those who have single births. They found the differences substantial: More than just double: health service utilisation and patient costs for women who have twins

The researchers recommend further research to consider the implications of their findings and to better understand how to address the identified inequities.

TRA researcher appointed as AMBA Patron

We’re delighted with the recent appointment of TRA Deputy Director, Professor Jeff Craig, to the role of Patron of the Australian Multiple Birth Association. Our two organisations have been close partners for over 40 years. Jeff is a professor of Epigenetics and Cell Biology at Deakin University and past president of the International Society of Twin Studies. “Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position,” AMBA Chairperson, Larissa Jordan said. “AMBA looks forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership with Jeff and TRA for the benefit of all multiple-birth families across our country.”

Multiple-birth obstetrician becomes a multiple-birth grandfather

Professor Mark Umstad is a leading multiple-birth obstetrician (involved in more than 2000 twin pregnancies, 60 triplet pregnancies and four quadruplet pregnancies), a long-time TRA investigator, and former Patron of the Australian Multiple Birth Association. How fitting that he should now welcome multiple-birth babies into his own family! Earlier this year he became a first-time grandparent to twins, Violet and Julian, who arrived at 33 weeks – and are thriving. We wish the entire family well and welcome them to the multiple birth community to which Mark has contributed so much. 

Why aren’t twin fingerprints the same?

Previous research has shown genes play a role in how the complex pattern of grooves and bumps on our fingertips form, so why don’t identical twins have identical fingerprints? A new study reveals that three waves of chemical signals – along with slight differences in the shape of the finger and the timing of skin growth – all interact to create our unique variations. Explainer here

New resources for twins and families in 2023

Dr Joan Friedman is a twin expert, an identical twin herself and a mother of fraternal twins. She has written a number of well-respected books with the latest about the relationship intricacies of adult twins, The Same but Different: How Twins Can Live, Love and Learn to be Individuals. Reviews available and shop here

Developed by twin researchers from Australia, UK and USA, this free website is designed to assist parents and teachers with making decisions about the education of multiple-birth children, including school placement and competition. The evidence-based guidelines are supported by the International Council of Multiple Birth Organisations. 

Are your twin and family members missing out on our study invitations?

There are many twins and higher-order multiples on our database with whom we’ve lost contact. Could you help us to reconnect by encouraging them to update their email addresses with us? This ensures they won’t miss out on invitations to exciting new studies coming up in 2024! 

  • Parents of multiples: Have your multiple children recently turned 18? Or did they turn 18 a while ago and are not receiving correspondence from us? Parents stop receiving study invitations on their twins’ behalf once they turn 18. So it is doubly important for these twins to update their contact details if they wish to continue to participate in studies.    
  • Multiples: Does your twin or triplet(s) receive our correspondence? If not, it’s likely we don’t have a valid email for them. 

Please encourage your twin or family members to update their contact details here. |


Copyright 2023: Twins Research Australia, Level 3, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Victoria 3010. TRA is a national resource supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and administered by the University of Melbourne.

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