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Some infertile couples unaware of multiple birth risks

Multiple births -- twins, triplets or more babies in one pregnancy -- have more risks of infant death and long-term disabilities such as cerebral palsy than births of single babies do. However, many couples seeking infertility treatments desire multiples and have poor knowledge particularly about the risks for twins, a University of Iowa study reported.

The investigation found that one in five women seeking treatment desired multiples over having a singleton, or one baby. While patients usually knew about risks of triplets and higher order multiples, slightly less than 50 percent knew about twins' increased risk of cerebral palsy. Even fewer, 30 percent, knew of the increased risk of infant death, which is eight times higher for twins than for singletons. The findings appeared in the March 2004 issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility. The report also was accompanied by an editorial.

"Most of the twins seen in public or on the news are success stories. However, there are many risky and unsuccessful twin pregnancies," said Ginny Ryan, M.D., UI fellow in obstetrics and gynecology and study co-author. "It's important for infertile couples to be aware that twins are riskier, and from a program standpoint the focus should be on having one healthy child and not just on pregnancy rates."

The investigation by researchers from the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine used a 41-question survey to evaluate women's demographics, infertility history, outcome desires, knowledge of risks, and goals of infertility evaluation and treatment. A total of 449 female patients seeking advice or treatment at one of three clinics responded to the questionnaire. Two sites were at UI Hospitals and Clinics and one was at a private gynecological practice in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Not having any children, being younger and having a lower income were factors associated with the increased desire to have twins or more babies.

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Contact: Becky Soglin
becky-soglin@uiowa.edu
319-335-6660
University of Iowa
21-Apr-2004


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