Facts and Figures About Multiple Births

Facts & Figures About Multiples

Dr. Steven Wells, director of maternal fetal medicine at WakeMed, answers a few questions about multiples.

Question: What is the incidence of twins?
Answer: One in 80 births results in multiples. The incidence may be higher because the medical profession cannot account for all twins. There is an issue called “vanishing twins” when a twin does not survive in the uterus. This often occurs before the first ultrasound [would have confirmed his presence].

Question: Why does it seem like there are more twins these days?
Answer: Medical interventions (techniques and medications) and increased incidence of moms having their babies later in life have contributed to this. Women release more eggs from their ovaries at older ages, which increases the odds of multiples.

Question: When do the odds of twins increase?
Answer: For every year over age 35, the incidence increases.

Question: Is there a greater chance of complications with multiples?
Answer: These pregnancies are complicated first and foremost by premature delivery [associated with multiples]. The uterus tends to contract when it gets to a certain size, which is why premature labor and delivery are more common.

Question: What are other complications?
Answer: Multiple pregnancies can be associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes, anemia and preeclampsia. Older moms also face the increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities.

Question: Is there a medical explanation for the twin bond?
Answer: I don’t think there is any question that there is an interaction or relationship between twins that doesn’t occur as much as in other siblings.

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