Adorable twins with Down syndrome are 1 (or rather, 2) in a million

·2 min read

When Savannah Combs gave birth to her twin daughters, she, like every new mom, knew they were special.

What she didn’t realize was how rare they were.

Twins Mckenli and Kennadi Ackerman were both born with Down syndrome. The chances of that are “exceedingly rare,” said Dr. Pamela Trapane, medical director of Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Duran Genetics Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

“For every 1,000 twin pregnancies, around two will have at least one baby with Down syndrome,” Trapane told TODAY Parents. “However, the chance prior to a pregnancy that the pregnancy will be twins and that both twins will have Down syndrome is around one in 1 to 5 million.”

Medical experts say the chances of both twins being born with Down syndrome are exceedingly rare. (Courtesy Savannah Combs)
Medical experts say the chances of both twins being born with Down syndrome are exceedingly rare. (Courtesy Savannah Combs)

Combs had an indication at least one of the girls might be born with Down syndrome during her pregnancy but did not confirm with a diagnostic test.

“Every [prenatal] appointment they were alive was a blessing to me,” the Jacksonville mom told TODAY.

The twins were born on May 12, 2021, two months prior to their due date. They stayed at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida for about six weeks. Next month, the hospital plans to open the Borowy Family Children’s Critical Care Tower with a three-floor neonatal intensive care unit.

Mckenli and Kennadi Ackerman arrived two months before their due date. (Courtesy Savannah Combs)
Mckenli and Kennadi Ackerman arrived two months before their due date. (Courtesy Savannah Combs)

Combs told TODAY Parents that her husband, Justin Ackerman, was “very emotional” initially about the twins’ diagnosis. But the 23-year-old first-time mom was “just happy they were here.”

The family of four is thriving today. The 8-month-old twins are “hitting milestones like no other,” Combs said. They attend physical and occupational therapy twice each week and are just about to start crawling, their mom said.

But as for the impression some people have that kids with Down syndrome are always happy? Don’t count on it, Combs said. While Kennadi is indeed a “ray of sunshine,” Mckenli is the opposite.

“She’s a total diva,” her mom said.

Related: Surgeon separates conjoined twins

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