Posted by: jillybaby | April 24, 2008

Could I be a wombtwin survivor?

The weirdest thing happened to me yesterday and has got my feathers well and truly ruffled. One of my colleagues noticed that I was left handed and asked if I had a twin. When I said ‘no’ he talked about a documentary he’d seen exploring the theory that left handed people were originally one half of a pair of twins!

So I’ve been googling like mad and discovered that scientific evidence has suggested that left handedness occurs when mirror twins (where one is left handed and one was right handed) are conceived and the right handed one ‘disappeared’ probably before the mother ever knew it was there. This is called a ‘disappearing twin’. Apparently it’s far more common than orginally thought. It explains why only 10% of the population is left handed – it’s like we’re all meant to be right handed by default unless we’re part of a mirror twin set. With the onset of ultrasound scanning, a disappeared twin shows as an empty sack in the womb but most doctors would never think to look for one and as I was born in 1972 my mum didn’t have any scans.

I’m not sure how much of this ‘theory’ I believe but I can’t deny it’s got me totally hooked on finding out more. My dad is left handed as is my paternal grandmother and there are identical twins on his side of the family too so who knows?

Any comments on this subject would be greatly appreciated 🙂



  1. Meh–I’m unconvinced. Daniel is very definitely the surviving baby of a set of identical twins (the twin was seen with a heartbeat at 8 weeks and and 10 weeks, but had disappeared by 12 weeks) and he’s right-handed enough.

    The fact that there are several left-handers in your family only suggests to me, what I’ve always understood to be true anyway, that left-handedness is a genetic trait. Furthermore, it’s fraternal twins that are genetically predisposed to run in certain families, not identical twins.

    My dad is left-handed, as are a couple of my cousins. Is all this mumbo-jumbo you’re reading on the internet attempting to assert that ALL left-handers are phantom twin survivors? And that’s the ONLY way left-handedness comes about? Just seems a little far-fetched to me.

  2. Hi Jilly

    I am project director of and the inventor of the term, “wombtwin survivor” for the sole survivor of a twin or multiple pregnancy (that’s a bit of a mouthful, hence the new term. ) Left handedness is linked, but mixed handedness is more common, in my experience. Take a look at the website and read about the research that has been done about this. Its amazing!

  3. You’re right JEDA about left-handedness being a genetic trait, that’s what I always thought but it doesn’t explain why only 10% of the population are left-handed. Surely if it was totally random then the split would be more 50/50 than 90/10? Food for thought, no?

  4. Just to add to the conversation the first born on my mother’s side has been left handed for at least 3 generations now.

    My Uncle, me and now Kory are left handed. Krystal might be, well Julie seems to think so, but I think it’s still early days.


  5. I was soooo big with you. I always said you had “buddies” with you. I never thought for a moment they were related. The internet is a source of enlightenment to us too old for scans etc.

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