Multiple births on the increase in Gloucestershire as Cheltenham Twins Group reveals a record level of membership.
MULTIPLE births are on the increase in Gloucestershire as more women take advantage of fertility treatment.
Cheltenham Twins Group has a record number of members as the trend continues to gather pace across the country.
It comes as statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the number of twins in British families has reached a record high.
There were 11,505 multiple births in 2011, a third more than a decade ago and the most since records began in 1940.
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Almost all were twins, though 172 were triplets and there were three sets of quads.
Experts said the linked trends of delaying motherhood until later in life and widely available fertility treatment were behind the figures.
A spokesman for the ONS said: "With approximately 11,000 IVF babies being born each year, this contributes significantly to the multiple birth rate."
Gloucestershire woman Sarah Edgeworth had IVF in February 2011 and gave birth to twins eight months later.
The 34-year-old is originally from Bishop's Cleeve but now lives with husband Paul and their children, Heidi and Thomas, in Longlevens.
Sarah said: "There's definitely an increase in twins. It's very common.
"I think it's down to IVF and there are more people having twins locally.
"We had been trying for children for quite a few years and weren't getting anywhere.
"We had one free attempt with IVF as that was the rule then in Gloucestershire. Now, you get three free goes.
"We were really lucky as otherwise it would have cost us £7,500. We call them our miracle babies."
Having two babies at once might be daunting for some parents but Sarah insisted she had coped well.
"I don't have any difficulties. I just get on with it," she said.
And she added that she recommended IVF for any women desperate to have children.
"They should persevere with it because it's worth it," she said. A spokeswoman for Cheltenham Twins Group said it now had more than 50 members.
The group formed in 2002. It is a not-for-profit organisation, designed to support the parents, carers and parents to be of twins, triplets, and higher order multiples.
She said: "We have very good relationships with Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
"We're a very active and lively group. We're there for people and we're a thriving organisation."
Cheltenham Twins Group holds weekly drop-in playtime fun sessions every Friday, from 10am to noon, at Charlton Kings Baptist Church in Church Street, Charlton Kings.
Sarah said she had benefited from going to some of the group's sessions and felt other mums with twins would do so too.