Heteropaternal Superfecundation - Twins with Different Fathers

Can Twins Have Two Different Fathers?

Twin babies one crying
Can twins have different fathers?. Cultura RM/Jamie Kingham / Getty Images

Twins are defined as "...two young who are simultaneously born from one mother." (Encyclopedia Britannica). Note that the definition only refers to the mother. But what about fathers? Can twins have different fathers? 

Twins with Different Fathers

As technology has improved the accuracy and accessibility of genetic testing, it has become more evident that twins can have two different fathers. The situation only applies to fraternal (dizygotic) twins, not identical (monozygotic) twins, which form from a single egg/sperm combination.

Monozygotic twins can not have different fathers. 

However, fraternal twins are the result of hyperovulation, the release of multiple eggs in a single cycle. Superfecundation describes a situation where the eggs are fertilized by sperm from separate incidences of sexual intercourse. In a case where a woman has sex with different partners, the twins could have different fathers. The appropriate term to describe this situation is heteropaternal superfecundation.

Examples of Twins with Different Fathers

This situation can also occur when twins are the result of fertility treatments, for example the case of Koen and Tuen Stuart, Dutch boys who were the result of IVF (in vitro fertilization). In a mixup at the lab, equipment had been used twice, causing another man’s sperm to be mixed with the father's.

In New Jersey, a mother of twins underwent paternity testing when applying for public assistance.

After he test showed that her partner was only the father of one of her twins, she admitted that she had had sex with another man within the same week that her twins were conceived.

A mother of twins in Texas acknowledged that she was having an affair with another man when her twins were conceived. Paternity testing revealed that her fiancee was indeed the father of one of twin boys, but that another man was the biological father of the other twin.

Source:

Baldwin, V. Pathology of Multiple Pregnancy. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012. Print. p. 13.

Grossman, J. "Heteropaternal Superfecundity: The Parentage Law Implications of Twins with Different Fathers." Scholarly Commons at Hofstra Law, May 12, 2015. Accessed January 5, 2016. http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1706&context=faculty_scholarship

Mueller, B. "Paternity Case for a New Jersey Mother of Twins Bears Unexpected Results: Two Fathers." The New York Times, May 7, 2015. Accessed January 5, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/08/nyregion/paternity-case-for-a-new-jersey-mother-of-twins-bears-unexpected-results-two-fathers.html

Continue Reading