By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
BEAVER SPRINGS - Walk down the halls of almost any area public school and you’ll likely find yourself doing a double take.
There are more than two dozen sets of twins attending Midd-West, Lewisburg and Selinsgrove and 22 sets of twins in the Milton School District.
“People ask me, ‘What’s in the water?’ ” said Ernestine “Ernie” Geiswite, the mother of identical twin daughters who attend Midd-West Middle School where there are nine other sets of twins.
The three other school buildings in the Snyder County district also have numerous sets of twins, even a set of triplets.
Many parents of multiples had no idea there were that many until Geiswite started looking into it after noticing “twins were everywhere”.
Midd-West Superintendent Wesley Knapp knew of the 13-year-old Ulrich triplets, Garrett, Matthew and Aaron, sons of Ange and the late Brian Ulrich, but was surprised to learn of the high number of twins in the district.
Knapp believes better nutrition and the increased use of infertility treatments may be the cause.
The high rate of twins attending local schools corresponds with the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics that found a substantial increase in multiple births in the past 30 years.
According to the agency, the twin birth rate rose 76 percent between 1980 and 2009, from 18.9 to 33.3 per 1,000 births.
The marked jump is attributed by the National Center for Health Statistics to the increased use of drugs to treat infertility and rising age of mothers at childbirth. In 2009, 35 percent of births were to women over age 30, up from 20 percent in 1980.
Five Midd-West mothers who spoke about raising twins and triplets said they did not use fertility drugs, but several have a family history of twins, which is a contributing factor.
“Maybe there is something in our water,” joked Ulrich, who recalled her surprise at learning she was pregnant with identical triplets after having a daughter.
Like Geiswite, Belinda Fults, a Mount Pleasant Mills mother of 17-year-old fraternal twin sons, had taken notice of what seemed to be a twin boom.
“I often wondered about that. There’s a ton of twins and they all seem to be about the same age,” she said.
Danielle Brumbaugh, a McClure mother of 8-year-old fraternal twins, said the number of twins in the district has risen since her older children, 17 and 21, attended.
“You rarely even heard of twins, but now they’re everywhere,” she said.
After the birth of Brumbaugh’s twins, two of her friends from Mifflin County each had a set of twins.
Lewisburg obstetrician Dr. George Miller experienced a jump in the number of multiple births last year when he assisted in the delivery of five sets of twins between April 17 and July 19.
He agrees the rising use of fertility drugs and assisted reproductive technology contributes to a higher risk of multiple births, but doesn’t believe the frequency of twins is on the rise.
In the past 10 years, the number of twins born at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg has widely fluctuated, with a high of 19 sets in 2008 and a low of five sets in 2007. Last year, 12 sets of twins were born at the hospital.
There may not be a single factor for the large number of twins in the Valley, but there is one area mothers of multiples seem to agree.
“I find it easier raising them than singles,” said Brumbaugh
Ulrich believes it would have been harder to have raised her triplet sons separately.
“There may be competition, but they always have a friend,” she said.