What is the difference between identical and fraternal twins?

twinsIdentical twins (also called monozygotic twins) occur when one fertilized egg splits and develops into two (or occasionally more) fetuses. The fetuses usually share one placenta. Identical twins have the same genes, so they generally look alike and are the same sex. A woman’s chances of having identical twins are not related to age, race or family history.

Fraternal twins (also called dizygotic twins) develop when two separate eggs are fertilized by two different sperm. Each twin usually has its own placenta. Fraternal twins (like other siblings) share about 50 percent of their genes, so they can be different sexes. They generally do not look any more alike than brothers or sisters born from different pregnancies. Fraternal twins are more common than identical twins.

Triplets and other higher-order multiples can result from three or more eggs being fertilized, one egg splitting twice (or more), or a combination of both. A set of higher-order multiples may contain all fraternal siblings or a combination of identical and fraternal siblings.  Read our fact sheet if you want to know more about being pregnant with multiples.

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7 Responses to “What is the difference between identical and fraternal twins?”

  1. Bella Says:

    I am a Identical twin, my daughters are idential and their daughters are identicla Hows that.

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Bella -Wow, that’s rare! Thanks for letting us know!

  3. Precious Palesa Latlhang Says:

    My cousins are identical twins and as they were growing up they would get the exact same answers even though they sat far apart from each other in their class such that they had to be separated as they continued with their studies…………

  4. Tameka Williams Says:

    My cousins are fraternal twins and they look like identical twins! So cute

  5. Beth sarver Says:

    My brother and I are faternal twins but were born at separate times although we are identical with different birthdays we are considered faternal.

  6. Jane Jensen Says:

    I have twin sisters who do not look alike at all. Very different in character, also. They were born in 1941 about 20 minutes apart. I guess they are fraternal twins.

  7. Adrian Rodriguez Says:

    Hi my name is Adrian and my sis and i are fraternal twins but don’t act or loom the same

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