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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Twins give hope for childless Vietnamese
Infertile couples have been heading to a village in southern Vietnam that has an unusually high number of twins.

They go to eat the local food and drink the water from the village wells, hoping there is a special ingredient that will help them conceive.

Hung Loc village in southern Dong Nai province has 57 sets of twins, almost all born after 1980, said village chief Do Khuong.

Three more sets are expected to be born this year.

The village has a population of just 9,500 people and no one knows why it has such a high rate of twins.

Population control

Since local media reported on the phenomenon several weeks ago, several couples from neighbouring provinces have been making daily pilgrimages to the village, said the village chief.

Vietnam has a population of 78 million. Under a family planning policy brought in in the early 1980s, most families are limited to two children.

The control programme is one of the most effective in the world. In the late 1980s Vietnamese women had an average of 3.8 children, compared with 2.3 children by 2000.

A degree of coercion is used to enforce the two-child policy.

Communist Party members who have more than two children face automatic expulsion and parents are often asked to pay the health and education costs of a third child. More serious sanctions include having land confiscated.

But while some local authorities and employers impose penalties, they are not enforced on a nationwide basis.

Some families still go for three or more children. In many such cases they are couples who have had two daughters and want a son.

There is also a tendency for poorer families to have larger families.

See also:

08 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Vietnam's two-child policy
28 Aug 01 | Education
Twins in school - together or apart?
05 Jul 01 | Health
Number of twins on increase
15 Sep 99 | Education
Teachers see double over twins
26 May 01 | UK
Woman has twins at 56
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