Multiple births - what are the risks?

Multiple pregnancy and birth is the most serious risk of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to children’s health and wellbeing. For twins and triplets, the health risks are mainly associated with the increased rate of premature birth.

Perinatal mortality, neonatal morbidity, and long-term health implications are all higher for twins and triplets. Multiple pregnancy and birth also results in increased health risks for mothers.

The psychosocial impact of the birth of multiples can affect many areas of life: emotional, practical and financial. Some evidence suggests that parents of IVF multiples experience greater difficulties in parenting and more problems with child behaviour than parents of naturally conceived children.

Risks to the mother

For mothers, risks arising from multiple pregnancies range from those that are less serious to those that are life-threatening.
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Risks to the child

For children, the highest risk from being one of a number of multiples is prematurity, with all its attendant problems.
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Psychosocial impact

Many people struggle with the emotional, practical and financial repercussions of a multiple birth, with parents far more susceptible to mental health problems such as extreme stress and depression.
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Impact on children's services

Twin and triplet births result in increased pressure on neonatal, paediatric and social services.
More about the impact on children's services>>