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Conjoined Twins Research Paper

930 words - 4 pages

Conjoined twins, also known by the politically incorrect name of Siamese twins, occur very rarely. Of the estimated 211 million births that occur each year in the US, less than 1000 are conjoined twins. Through study, scientists have discovered plausible explanations for the origins of this genetic disorder, which causes the twins to be connected at certain points on the body. While the twins are attached at various places, they often also share the same organs, giving them a slim, but plausible, chance for survival. Some may think that conjoined twins are a fairly recent medical discovery; however, the exact opposite is actually true. They have been around for many, many centuries, and ...view middle of the document...

For example, the term “Siamese twins” was coined by brothers, Chang and Eng Bunker. These two were born in Thailand, formerly Siam, in 1811, hence the name “Siamese.” The twins grew to be teens, left their home country, and decided to venture and travel the world with the Barnum and Bailey Circus, soon to become internationally famous. Eventually, they settled in the United States, married two sisters, had almost two dozen children, and lived to be 63. Besides the famous Bunker brothers, there have also been many other paintings and legends of other conjoined twins. St. Augustine of Hippo, in his book City of God, wrote of a “monstrous race of men.” He said, “Some years ago, quite within my own memory, a man was born in the East, double in his upper, but single in his lower half— having two heads, two chests, four hands, but one body and two feet like an ordinary man; and he lived so long that many had an opportunity of seeing him.” During his time, there was no way of explaining the cause of this and so it was deemed abnormal. St. Augustine, and the people of his time, saw abnormalities as problematic; and therefore rejected people who were “different” than themselves. Nowadays, people who have deformities are accepted into the mainstream, except by those few who are just plain rude.
While the Bunker twins may have lived a long and fairly successful life, the chance of survival for most conjoined twins is slim. Every pair of children has an overall survival rate of between 5-25%. With each conjoined twin birth, 40-60% of them arrive stillborn. Of those that are born alive, about 35% survive only one day. While not related to their mortality, another interesting statistic in relation to conjoined twins is that...

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