If you are having twins or even triplets, you are not alone. These days we are seeing more and more multifetal pregnancies than we did in the past. This is thanks, in part, to medical advances in reproductive medicine. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the twin birth rate in the United States is approximately 33.1 per 1000 live births. This represents a 76% increase from 1980 to 2009.
Multifetal pregnancies can result from two different eggs becoming fertilized in the same cycle (fraternal twins) or can be the result of one egg dividing into two (identical twins). Fraternal twins run in families so if you have a close relative that is a fraternal twin, you may be more likely to have fraternal twins yourself. In contrast, there is no known genetic link that causes identical twinning.
Other factors that increase your chances of having a multifetal pregnancy include maternal age, the use of fertility drugs and/or treatments, nutrition and prior births. If you are of an “advanced maternal age” (age 35 or older), your chances of having fraternal twins goes up. Obviously, using fertility drugs or undergoing fertility treatments will also increase your chances for multiples.
There are certain risks associated with multifetal pregnancies including preterm labor. For this reason, multifetal pregnancies are termed “high risk” and women who are pregnant with multiples are given extra care and treatment by their OBGYNs. This may include closer monitoring and more frequent screenings. In some cases, bed rest is prescribed to protect the health of the mother and the unborn children and to increase the chances of carrying to term. If you are pregnant with multiples and would like to get more information about how to increase your chances of carrying to term, talk to your OBGYN today.