Back to Top

Twins and Increased Birth Injury Risk

Twins and Increased Birth Injury Risk

How Twin and Multiple Deliveries Can Have Increased Risk of Birth Injury

undefinedAccording to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in one year, there were 128,310 twin births and 3,675 triplet births.  The twin birth rate was 33.3 per 1,000 live births in the United States.  Over the past several decades there has been a significant increase in the number of multiple births.  Reasons for the rise include:

  • Increase in maternal age
  • Rise in maternal obesity
  • Widespread use of fertility treatments

Many twins and triplets are delivered without complication, but they do present an increased risk of birth injuries.  Multiple birth pregnancies are considered high risk.  It is essential that the treating physician take every precaution to ensure safe labor and delivery for both the mother and the infants.

Complications with Multiple Birth Pregnancies

Common complications associated with multiple birth pregnancies include an increased risk of preterm labor.  A large number of twins and triplets are born prematurely which can lead to breathing and feeding problems.  A woman pregnant with multiples should be monitored often to determine whether the infants are under fetal distress at any point during gestation.

Another common birth injury associated with multiple births is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).  This brain injury occurs when there is a lack of oxygen and can result in serious, lifelong conditions such as Cerebral Palsy.  Premature labor can cause HIE since the fetus may not be fully developed.  Umbilical cord complications, jaundice, underdeveloped lungs, and several other risk factors are also associated with twin and triplet births.

It is essential that a woman expecting twins, triplets or more stay under the care of a specialist.  Multiple births can be delivered safely, but a physician must be diligent in their care and treatment throughout the pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Risks with Premature Births

Because of the increased risks associated with prematurity, a woman pregnant with more than one child should be monitored closely throughout her pregnancy.  Failure to provide proper prenatal care by a doctor or midwife could create health problems for both the mother and child and result in liability.  Preterm labor is when labor begins before 37 weeks.  If you are pregnant with twins, triplets or more you should be given regular ultrasounds and pelvic exams to determine if you are at risk to go into labor before being full term.