Brazil: a city intriguing for its birth rate… of twins

A village that sees life in double

Brazil: a city intriguing for its birth rate… of twins

A village that sees life in double. For nearly a century, the town of Candido Godoi, in the south of Brazil, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, an astonishing phenomenon has intrigued scientists for many years, as told by RTL. The city, populated by about 7,000 souls, is known throughout the world to shelter an exceptional number of twins. In some neighborhoods, this affects up to one in five births…compared to one in 40, on average in the rest of the world.

Indeed, the use of medically assisted procreation and later pregnancies have tended to increase the birth rate of twins. According to the National Institute of Demography (INED), "the twinning rate has increased in thirty years and reached an unprecedented level, going from 9.1 twin births per 1,000 births in total in the 1980s to 12 in the 1980s. 2010". On average, each year, 1.6 million sets of twins are born.

Nevertheless, scientific advances are in no way responsible for this astonishing situation in the small Brazilian city. Indeed, medically assisted procreation has only existed since 1979. However, in Candido Godoi, this abnormal rate of twins has existed since the late 1940s. So how can this situation be explained? Still today, the light has not been completely shed, but two theses clash. Some speculate that Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, also known as the Angel of Death, carried out experiments in the area. According to this same theory, Mengele even came to the Brazilian city on several occasions, posing as a veterinarian.

If, historically, Josef Mengele took refuge in the region and conducted experiments on twinning in Germany, this thesis is far from credible. Indeed, the birth rate of abnormal twins had already been spotted more than two decades before a possible passage of the Nazi. Another point, it is unlikely that - in a village barely connected to the electricity grid at the time - this one could have carried out such experiments.

Another thesis, by a professor of genetics at the University of Porto Alegre, cited by Le Monde in 2016, puts forward an argument combining history and genetics. According to Ursula Matte, this situation could be explained by the presence of a few German families from the beginning of the 20th century. For many years, the communities will not move or move little, which will lead to many consanguineous marriages. At the same time, the professor realized, in 2011, the presence of a "P53" gene more common in mothers of twins. For now, this track of "genetic predisposition" is still only a hypothesis. Even today, no scientific explanation has come to explain this phenomenon, which is unique in the world.