It’s a curious, but little-known fact that the rate of twin births in West Africa is about four times higher than in the rest of the world. The centre of this twin zone is Igbo-Ora, a sleepy southwest town in Nigeria.
More twins are born here than anywhere else on earth, but nobody is quite sure why this town should be more twin prone than any other. Outlook reports from the ‘twin town’ with a difference.
Central to the Yoruba people’s diet is the cassava, a plant with a tuber root, which can be eaten in addition to the leaves and flowers.
Research into multiple births carried out at Lagos’s University Teaching Hospital has suggested that a high level of a chemical found in the Yoruba women and the peelings of the tuber could account for the high level of multiple births.
So, could it be that eating tuber peelings leads to multiple births? The International Institute of Tropical Agricultural is uncertain. Following research into the reputed high oestrogen content of a yam like vegetable called agida, Robert Asiedu is sceptical of the tuber link. Citing the specific cultivation of yams in regions of Asia for their contraceptive qualities, in an article for Science In Africa magazine, he commented:
‘Nobody has provided any scientific explanation or evidence that could prove that yam consumption can cause multiple births.’