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Conjoined Births: Why So Many? (VIDEO)

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Undated handout photo released Sunday Sept.18, 2011 by British charity Facing the World of conjoined twins Rital and Ritag Gaboura (left to right not given) before they were successfully separated at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Facing the World says Rital and Ritag Gaboura were born in Sudan with the tops of their heads stuck together. Twins born joined at the head _ known as craniopagus twins _ occur in about one in 2.5 million births and successful attempts to split the
Undated handout photo released Sunday Sept.18, 2011 by British charity Facing the World of conjoined twins Rital and Ritag Gaboura (left to right not given) before they were successfully separated at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Facing the World says Rital and Ritag Gaboura were born in Sudan with the tops of their heads stuck together. Twins born joined at the head _ known as craniopagus twins _ occur in about one in 2.5 million births and successful attempts to split the

The birth last week of Jesus and Emanuel -- conjoined twins from northern Brazil with two heads on one body -- became a worldwide sensation.

However, if more conjoined twins are popping up in the news recently, it's not by accident. The ability to keep children born with birth defects alive has improved, and so has the ability to instantaneously spread news of an unusual birth, no matter where in the world it happens.

Marc Hartzman, an expert on anatomical wonders and author of "American Sideshow," says such births -- still quite rare -- are more commonplace than ever.

"It seems like every two weeks there is one," Hartzman told HuffPost Weird News. "You don't hear as much about legless people or people with hypertrichosis [werewolf syndrome]. Of course, that's even rarer."

Earlier this year. Sueli Ferreira, 27, gave birth to a two-headed baby in the Brazilian state of Paraiba, but it died a few hours later because of lack of oxygen to one of the child's heads.

In addition, there were conjoined babies born in Chicago, China and Chile, according to Emaxhealth.com.

In total, conjoined twins are estimated to occur once in every 200,000 births, according to estimates by the University of Maryland.

Dr. James Goodrich, a pediatric neurosurgeon at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, says modern medicine has given conjoined twins a better chance of survival and modern media has given such births a higher profile.

"In the old days, conjoined twins were considered freaks whose pictures were printed on postcards," Goodrich told the Huffington Post. "In the age of the Internet, it's hard to hide them. Plus, we're better at keeping them alive."

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Case in point: Goodrich points to some conjoined twins born in the Philippines who were able to survive once they were able to get on drugs that could help their hearts.

"Heart failure is a big concern in many of these babies," he said. "One will be hypotensive and the other will be hypertensive, so they need to be on drugs that will get them to normal before surgery can be considered."

Goodrich says the heart will be a concern with Jesus and Emmanual, because while each boy has his own brain and spinal cord, they share all other organs, including the heart, lungs and liver, according to news.ninemsn.com.au.

"One heart could handle both brains, but it won't be easy," Goodrich said. "The brain takes a lot of blood. What often happens is that there is one brain more dominant and, when you can't separate, the more dominant brain is saved."

There are many types of "conjoinment," but the twins' condition is known as "dicephalic parapagus." It's extremely rare and because they share the same body, separating them is not possible, according to the Daily Mail.

Despite the difficulties that lay ahead, the director of the hospital where Jesus and Emmanual were born, Claudionor Assis de Vasconcelos, told the Brazilian newspaper O Povo that that the babies are healthy and nursing and insists the mother, despite her initial surprise, is not distraught.

"On the contrary, the baby was received with much happiness by the family," he said.

Regardless of whether there really is an increase in the number of conjoined babies being born or not, Hartzman says the fascination that surrounds them will stay as strong as ever.

"It really is the most fascinating human anomaly," he said, "because it's so hard for most people to imagine having someone connected to them every waking moment."

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