Monozygotic triplet boys were born yesterday in a Danish hospital to a Danish mother and an Icelandic father. While naturally-conceived identical triplets are extremely rare, another set of triplet boys were born in the same family in Iceland in 1977.
The newborn triplets are descended from Inga Jóhannesdóttir from Grímsey, an island off the northern coast of Iceland, which lies on the Arctic Circle. Among Inga’s descendants are the triplet boys born in 1977, named Bjarni, Svafar and Konráð. Inga is their great-great-grandmother, while she is the great-great-great-grandmother of the triplets born yesterday. From her are also descended at least eight pairs of twins, visir.is reports.
According to visir.is, the boys born yesterday are in good health and so are the two surviving triplets born in 1977, Bjarni and Svafar, but Konráð died from an accident when he was six years old.
Although the family connection is somewhat far back, the mother of the older triplets, Sigrún Þorláksdóttir, and the grandmother of the younger ones, Brynja Siguróladóttir, are close friends and the families know each other well.
The frequency of identical triplets is difficult to measure because of their rarity, but experts put estimates anywhere from 1 per 60,000 births to 1 per 200 million births.
Another factor that complicates research is the increased likelihood for complications that arise when one or more babies share a placenta, and the decreased life-expectancy of prematurely born children, but multiple births almost always premature.