The human twin birth rate in the United States rose 76% from 1980 through 2009, from 18.8 to 33.3 per 1,000 births.
The Yoruba peoples have the highest rate of twinning in the world, at 45–50 twin sets (or 90–100 twins) per 1,000 live births, possibly because of high consumption of a specific type of yam containing a natural phytoestrogen which may stimulate the ovaries to release an egg from each side.
In Central Africa, there are 18–30 twin sets (or 36–60 twins) per 1,000 live births. In Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, the lowest rates are found; only 6 to 9 twin sets per 1,000 live births. North America and Europe have intermediate rates of 9 to 16 twin sets per 1,000 live births.
Multiple pregnancies are much less likely to carry to full term than single births, with twin pregnancies lasting on average 37 weeks, three weeks less than full term.
Women who have a family history of fraternal twins have a higher chance of producing fraternal twins themselves, as there is a genetically linked tendency to hyper-ovulate. There is no known genetic link for identical twinning. Other factors that increase the odds of having fraternal twins include maternal age, fertility drugs and other fertility treatments, nutrition, and prior births. Some women intentionally turn to fertility drugs in order to conceive twins.