August 24, 2011

Twins switched at birth

Twin expert Nancy L. Segal has a new book, Someone Else's Twin: the True Story of Twins Switched at Birth about a pair of identical twins who were mixed up at the hospital, and one went home with a lady who had just given birth to a singleton, while the mother of the twins took home one of her babies and the other lady's baby. The identical twins ran into each other in a shop 28-years-later. Drama ensued.

Segal also has a book coming out in 2012 summing up the famous Minnesota Twins study of separated twins, for which she was one of the researchers.


stari_momak said...

I think the old SCTV has the definitive exploration of this issue.

Anonymous said...

Do you think that these switched at birth incidents might possibly be intentional?

I mean it would be hard to be that incompetent.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think that these switched at birth incidents might possibly be intentional?

I mean it would be hard to be that incompetent."

No, health care workers are pretty bad overall. After a few months or years, births, deaths, pain are routine, and most nurses don't give a shit.That's why hospitals now have systemic policies in place to prevent accidental baby-switching.

Anonymous said...

There is a 20 minute NPR interview with the author here

neil craig said...

Any idea how often that happens with normal babies? Clearly in this case nobody would have known if it hadn't been a twin.

Anonymous said...

"Any idea how often that happens with normal babies?"

These days, it would be very very rare. In every hospital I work, the mom and baby get matching numbered/bar-coded armbands in the delivery room. They stay on until they leave the hospital.

Anonymous said...

I should add: the ID bracelet gets put on the baby's ankle, since the wrist is too easy to slip off.

From I see, the ID's are printed in tandem, separated by perforations. I wish I had invented it...technically easy, obvious in retrospect, and worth multi-millions to the inventor.

I've seen hundreds of newborns, and most of them really look pretty much the same. Can't really blame nurses - or mothers- for confusing one for another. The current number/bar-code system is much better.

Anonymous said...

Can't really blame nurses - or mothers- for confusing one for another.

They smell different to you if they just came out of you. It's nurses, not mothers.

Anonymous said...

Here is an experiment - not doable in the US.

Let the new mom and baby "bond" for an hour. Wash the kid and put him/her into the usual hospital nursery with 10 other kids of the same vague color. Wait an hour. Ask the new mom to identify her kid.

I would bet that half the new moms would misidentify her baby.

Maya said...

My mother told me a story similar to this. It happened to her former classmate. Where we are from, women are often hospitalized a month before they have to give birth, or even earlier, at least that's how it was back then. If a woman wasn't in absolutely perfect health, she spent months of her pregnancy in the hospital. The women were lodged dorm style with each hospital room serving 15 patients, so they had a chance to meet, talk and remembered each other very well, if they were to meet later.
Well, mom's former classmate was married to a typical Georgian man- tall, large framed and dark featured. The son she brought home grew into a very small, blond, light skinned little boy. One day she ran into her hospital roommate who was out with her 3 sons- 2 small framed blond boys and one large, black haired, dark featured toddler. They tested the children and sure enough, the babies were switched at birth. The lady with the blond children was living a tough life, was in an unhappy marriage and according to the story said, "I already have to barely functioning idiots for sons and I don't need a third of a kind." So my mother's classmate got to keep both toddlers. They must be in their 20s now, and I've no clue how their lives turned out.
Those of you who are parents, what would you do in such a situation? Would you prefer to keep the kid you are raising now that, you just found out, isn't yours, or would you want your biological child, assuming you can't have both?

James Kabala said...

Stari: I would think the Dick Van Dyke Show episode might have more popularity here.

Saint Louis said...

My son was recently born via C-section and the doctor accidentally nicked him on the cheek with the scalpel. My thought process went in the following order:

(1) I'm so glad it wasn't a half inch higher (his eye).

(2) Should we sue? No, it's a minor cut and will heal in a week, so no damages. (I know that sounds overly litigious; I'm a lawyer and can't help it.)

(3) Well, at least we won't accidentally switch him with another baby.