Kodinhi – Kerala’s village of twins : By any metric, conceiving twins and triplets is a rare natural occurrence around the world. In fact, on average only 16 out of 1,000 successful pregnancies in the world result in twins and this average is even lower in India at just 9. However, this ratio is heavily skewed in the sleepy hamlet of Kodinhi in Kerala, which has a record 400 pairs of twins in a population of just over 2,000 families! Geneticists and scientists have long tried to explain this rare phenomenon but are only now making some headway.
While experts have pointed to genetics as an obvious factor, what’s even more mysterious is that irrespective of religion, lineage or their original heritage, all families living in the village have conceived more than the average pairs of twins over the last few generations, and the number is consistently growing. Though initial estimates put the instance of multiple births at 100 pairs, follow-up surveys found the figure to be closer to 204 pairs (408 individuals) of twins, and two sets of triplets.
Women from Kodinhi married off to far away places are also known to give birth to twins. According to some doctors this phenomenon is due to chemicals present in water in the Kodinhi area. According to locals, the oldest known twin pair in the village was born in 1949. The number of twin births in Kodinhi has been increasing over the years, with surveys showing over 79 pairs of twins within the age group of 0–10 years.
In 2008, around 30 pairs of twins from Kodinhi, along with their parents, got together to form The Twins and Kins Association, the first such association of twins in India. The forum, according to its founders, aims to bring to wider attention problems peculiar to people of multiple births, such as those concerning their education and health.