Twins Help Give Other Babies a Healthy Future; Health in Association with the NHS A Children's Charity Has Given a Grant to a Tyneside Doctor for Research into Identical Twins. AILSA MACMILLAN Examines How the Medical Study Has Helped Further Child Healthcare Today

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Byline: AILSA MACMILLAN

TWINS from the region are helping medical research into the health and well-being of children everywhere.

The Children's Foundation gave pounds 4,000 to Dr Ravi Swamy and a team of staff at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary to study identical twins born in the North East with different birth weights.

As many as 70 sets of identical twins, born between 2000 and 2004, are being studied to find out more about their development, intelligence and general health.

The twins, now aged between five and eight years old and have undergone a series of tests.

Serena and Lauren Short, six, from Hebburn, South Tyneside, are among the youngsters taking part.

Parents Janine, 38, a tourist information worker, and Colin, 35, an estates technician, decided to have their children examined to help research.

When the twins were born at South Tyneside General Hospital they were different weights and very light. Janine said: "Although the twins were born naturally, one had a dislocated hip and a splint on her leg for the first year.

"This was difficult as I found it hard changing nappies and it was upsetting to see one of my daughters having to pull herself along.

"Doctors have so far examined the twins by using jigsaws and measuring their head sizes. They have also measured the twins' physical and social development."

Janine added: "The research has been helpful because I now have more insight into how twins develop. Serena is taller and bigger than her sister but they are similar in intelligence. The twins have enjoyed taking part."

Joseph and Luke Mumsford, six, from Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, are also being examined.

Research started on the twins when they were five. Parents Chris, 39, and Maria, 37, decided to enrol their children to help doctors in the development of premature babies.

Dad Chris, 39, an IT worker, said: "The twins were very premature, which was a difficult time. There were complications in the pregnancy and my wife had to be transferred from the RVI to Sheffield Royal Hallamshire hospital where the twins were born. The babies had to be put into a special care unit and had to spend a further three months at the RVI.

"Now, both boys are happy and healthy and the fact that they were premature hasn't affected them in a negative way.

"We decided to enrol the children into the research scheme to put something back into the National Health Service and help doctors in the development of premature babies.

"The twins' motor skills have been monitored and we are waiting for feedback."

Barbara Gubbins, from The Children's Foundation, said the main aim in the research is to achieve the best delivery time for identical twins.

She said: "If the best time is found to deliver twins where one baby is not bigger than another, this would be beneficial. …