Wombfight: Jacob and Esau in Utero


A few weeks ago, synagogues around the world read the Torah portion that introduces one of the most famous twin brother rivalries in the world – that of Jacob and Esau. So it’s kind of eerie that this unprecedented and highly twin-relevant video just got released to the public.

This is not just any twins video. Taken using a new high-clarity MRI technology (also called the “cinematic MRI”) this YouTube-ready treasure allows doctors to watch in great detail as twins literally fight for space in the womb. Where a normal MRI would take pictures of thin slices of the body, this newfangled technology takes repeated pictures of the same slice and strings them together to create something like a movie.

Doctors are starting to use cinematic MRIs to diagnose a dangerous fetal condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), but it’s also pretty informative when it comes to twin development, and raises the provocative question of whether differing experiences or conflict in utero can impact twins’ differences after they’re born.  According to Jewish tradition, Jacob and Esau began struggling even in the womb, and this new technology is proof of just how true that might have been.

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