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Multiples Risks for Mom and Baby

Take time to understand the risks involved for mom and baby with multiples.


With any fertility treatment, there is always some risk of becoming pregnant with multiples. It is important you talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with each of the  fertility treatments.

The following are health risks of multiples for the mother:

  • Preterm labor (prior to 37 weeks): Preterm labor may cause a mother to be on bed rest and increase her chances of blood clots. It can also contribute to premature birth, which occurs about 60 percent of the time for multiples.
  • Placental problems: With multiple pregnancies, the chances are higher that the placenta will have anomalies; this can hinder oxygen from being delivered to the fetus.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women who are pregnant with multiples have a greater chance of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
  • Preeclampsia or toxemia: This condition includes the onset of high blood pressure during pregnancy. It occurs 2 to 5 times more often in multiple pregnancies.
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth: If a baby dies before 20 weeks, it is called a miscarriage; when a baby dies after 20 weeks, it is a stillbirth.

Multiple babies are at risk for health complications, such as:

  • Birth defects: These types of conditions are present when a baby is born. They can include cerebral palsy, neurological disorders or gastrointestinal issues. Multiples are twice as likely to have birth defects as a single baby.
  • Premature birth: The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chance of complications and long-term health concerns, including developmental issues. This can also cause a baby to require extra care in the hospital after birth.
  • Growth issues: When twins are different sizes, they are called “discordant twins.” These babies have a greater chance of experiencing health issues in utero and after birth.
  • Low birth weight: Babies who weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, are considered to have a low birth weight. These babies are at risk for long-term health issues.
  • Neonatal death: Multiple babies are at a higher risk of death before the 28th day after birth.

Women who are pregnant with multiples — and their families — may also face increased stress during and after pregnancy.   Postpartum depression is also more common. Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling, so he or she can refer you to a specialist if needed.

By Kristin Nelson, Contributing Writer


American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Side effects of injectable fertility drugs (gonadotropins). Accessed July 20, 2017.
ReproductiveFacts.org. Multiple pregnancy and birth: Twins, triplets, and high-order multiples. Accessed July 20, 2017.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Preterm (premature) labor and birth. Accessed July 20, 2017.
March of Dimes. Being pregnant with twins, triplets and other multiples. Accessed July 20, 2017.

Last Updated: July 18, 2017