A new MRI technology is showing that twins partake in some sibling rivalry even before they are born.
The high-clarity scans also known as "cinematic MRI," allow doctors to have a more detailed view of twins in utero, Marisa Taylor-Clarke, of Imperial College's Robert Steiner MR Unit in London, told Reuters.
The scans have even captured images of twins “fighting” -- kicking each other within their extremely cramped shared space.
New Scientist notes that while traditional MRI capture still imagines, "cinematic MRI" puts images frame together in a fashion images akin to real time video.
"A lot of the so-called videos in the womb are very processed, so they do a lot of reconstructing and computer work afterwards. These are the raw images that are acquired immediately," Taylor-Clarke told New Scientist.
According to the doctor, the development has been extremely helpful in her study of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) a condition in which one identical twin “siphons” blood away from the other, she explained. She has been able to use "cinematic MRI" assess the severity of the condition; something that standard MRI is unable to reveal.
As twins share a placenta in the womb, it is a common complication that their blood supplies become connected, causing the condition.
According to the Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome Foundation, the illness strips the “donor” twin of nutrients vital it its development, and can also put strain the heart of the twin receiving excess.
Taylor-Clarke and her team have studied 24 pairs of twins. With the help of cine-MRI they have breakthroughs such as detecting more intricate differences in brain development between TTTS twins, which they hope will help them predict developmental problems prior to birth and aid in more readily preparing parents for the birth of their children.
According to the Huffington Post, Cine-MRI has also given doctors a more detailed look at some more normal developmental milestones, such as deciphering whether a fetus is yawning, or simply opening its mouth.