Danger of multiple births: Twins five times more likely to die in first year

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UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 21 June 2012

Riskier: Twin births run a higher risk of complications compared to single births

Riskier: Twin births run a higher risk of complications compared to single births

Twin and triplet babies have a five time greater risk of dying within their first year compared to single babies, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Data from 2009 revealed that out of 706,248 live births a total of 3,180 infants died before their first birthday. This was an average of 4.5deaths per 1,000 births.

However, the mortality rate for multiple
births was five times higher than for singletons, with 20.4 deaths per
1,000 live births compared with 4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The highest infant mortality rates were for the extremely low birthweight babies – twins are far more likely to have a low birth weight compared to single babies.

The figures are particularly concerning because the number of women having multiple births due to IVF has risen dramatically over the past decade.

Other ONS figures have revealed there were 15.7 multiple births per 1,000 women in 2010 – a rise of 6.8 per cent since 2000.

IVF treatment is a major contributor to the multiple pregnancy and multiple birth rate.

On average, one in five IVF pregnancies results in either twins or triplets, compared with one in 80 where the baby is conceived naturally.

Multiple pregnancies, where a woman becomes pregnant with two or more embryos, can cause complications including miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and death.

A recent study from Birmingham University also found parents of twins or triplets are more likely to separate.

They found almost a third of couples with twins or triplets got divorced, compared with less than a quarter of couples with any number of ‘single-born’ children.

The extra cost of multiple births often leads to financial hardship which can put a strain on marriages, it is claimed.

The Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority, says no more than one embryo should be
implanted because of the risk of multiple births.

Last year the HFEA met it's target to reduce the proportion of multiple births to 20 per cent.The IVF watchdog says the
target for 2011/12 is 15 per cent.