What risks does a multiple pregnancy pose?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 08, 2012
Quick Bites

  • Higher number of foetuses increases the risk for early birth.
  • Women carrying multiple foetuses are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Anaemia is very common in women with multiple pregnancies.
  • Abnormal foetal positions increase the chances of ceasarean birth.

Multiple pregnancy sounds exciting but it is associated with high risks too. It increases the risk of complications. Along with greater vulnerability to various diseases, multiple pregnancy also increase the risk of death of a woman's death during child birth. Moreover, in such cases the baby is more prone to any harm during birth.

Multiple pregnancy risks

In case of multiple pregnancies a woman’s womb carries more than one child. So the greater the number of babies in the womb, the smaller they will be with low weight. When babies during birth are low in weight, it can cause a lot of problems. The most common complications include:

  • Preterm labor and birth Most of the multiple pregnancies are premature (born before 37 weeks). Higher number of foetuses increases the risk for early birth. Premature babies are born before their bodies and organ systems have completely matured. These babies are often small, with low birth-weights (less than 2,500 grams or 5.5 pounds), and they need help for breathing, eating, fighting infection, and staying warm. Premature babies born before 28 weeks are especially vulnerable. Many of their organs may be underdeveloped to survive outside the mother's uterus and may not function well.
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension - Women with multiple foetuses are more likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. It can enhance the chances of placental abruption (early detachment of the placenta).
  • Anaemia - Anaemia is very common in multiple pregnancies rather than in single pregnancy.
  • Birth defects - Multiple pregnancies produce babies with congenital abnormalities including neural tube defects, gastrointestinal, and heart abnormalities.
  • Miscarriage First trimester miscarriage is more prominent in women having multiple pregnancies. This may or may not be accompanied by bleeding. The risk of pregnancy loss is increased in later trimesters.
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome - Twin-to-twin syndrome occurs during twin pregnancy. In this blood vessels remain inter-connected within the placenta and so divert blood from one foetus to the other. It occurs in about 15 percent of twins with a shared placenta.
  • Abnormal amounts of amniotic fluid - Amniotic fluid abnormalities are more common in multiple pregnancies, especially for twins that share a placenta.
  • Cesarean delivery - Abnormal foetal positions in multiple pregnancies increase the chances of cesarean birth.
  • Postpartum hemorrhage - The large placental area and over-distended uterus can place the mother at risk of bleeding after delivery in many multiple pregnancies.

In case of multiple pregnancies extra care is required. Additional ultrasounds should be done to monitor the development of foetuses. Multiple pregnancies are complicated and if not cared for  properly, can prove to be really harmful to the mother and to the baby.

Image Source: Getty

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