Today, multiple births are more prevalent than they used to be. The main reason is more couples opt for fertility treatments, which increases the chance of multiple pregnancies. They, however, carry a higher risk of problems. There are several complications which you must be aware of.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Sushruta Mokadam, Consultant Obstetrician, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune, to help guides people with some of the common complications that lead to multiple pregnancies. But before that, let us understand what causes multiple gestation.
What leads to multiple pregnancy?
Multiple births happen when a woman is carrying more than one baby. Usually, they happen when more than one egg is fertilised. When fertilised eggs divide into two or more embryos, each of them develops into a baby and result in multiple pregnancy.
Identical twins are the offsprings produced when a single fertilised egg divides into two. They have the same DNA and an almost identical appearance. Fraternal twins are born when two different eggs are fertilised by two separate sperms. They are no more similar than any other siblings from various pregnancies with the same parents and do not share the same DNA.
Common complications of multiple pregnancy
Joyous and exciting as the event may be, there are numerous complications associated with multiple pregnancies. The most frequently observed are below:
1. Preterm birth and labour
Premature birth affects all higher-order multiples and over 60 per cent of twins (born before 37 weeks). The chance of early delivery increases with the number of fetuses in the womb. Babies that are born prematurely lack fully developed bodies and organ systems and may require assistance in breathing, eating, fighting infection, and maintaining body temperature.
Compared to single births, multiple pregnancies had anaemia more than twice as frequently.
3. Pregnancy-associated hypertension
Pregnancy-related high blood pressure is more than twice as likely to occur in women who are carrying multiple foetus. In comparison to a single-baby pregnancy, this issue frequently manifests earlier and is more severe. Additionally, it can make placental abruption (early detachment of the placenta) more likely to happen.
4. Birth defects
Babies with multiple births are nearly twice as likely to have congenital (present at birth) problems such as cardiac, gastrointestinal, and neural tube disorders (such as spina bifida).
In multiple pregnancies, the vanishing twin syndrome is more likely to occur, when more than one foetus is detected but disappears (or is miscarried), typically in the first trimester. Bleeding may or may not happen at this time. In later trimesters, the chance of miscarriage increases as well.
With the assistance of a specialized team, a consultant obstetrician should take care of such a pregnancy. Additional tertiary NICU facilities should be available for preterm babies, which can make delivering a baby healthy.