Risks to the mother

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

Pregnancy complications

Pregnancy complications including hypertension, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes may require an early admission to hospital for the last weeks of pregnancy, and that the birth may have to be induced early. These complications, whilst they can occur in singleton pregnancies, are much more common in multiple pregnancies:

  • Higher rates of miscarriage.
  • Higher chance of pregnancy induced hypertension: 20% in women pregnant with twins compared with 1–5% in women pregnant with a singleton.
  • Higher risk of pre-eclampsia: up to 30% for twin pregnancies compared with 2–10% in singleton pregnancies.
  • Higher risk of gestational diabetes: up to 12% in twin pregnancies compared with around 4% for singleton pregnancies.
  • Higher chance of intervention in delivery: elective and emergency caesarean section rates are higher for mothers of twins.

Maternal mortality

Maternal mortality associated with multiple births is 2.5 times greater than with singletons.

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What other countries are doing

Many other countries have already successfully introduced a single embryo transfer policy – the multiple birth rate has plummeted while birth rates have remained largely unaffected.

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