Twins, triplets five times more likely to die in first year

Updated: Jun 22, 2012, 18:49 PM IST

London: Twin and triplet babies have a five time greater risk of dying within their first year compared to single babies, according to a new British official report.

The Office for National Statistics data showed that out of 706,248 live births in England and Wales in 2009, a total of 3,180 infants died before their first birthday. This was an average of 4.5 deaths per 1,000 births.

The statistics, however, found that the mortality rate for multiple births was five times higher than for singletons, with 20.4 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to 4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, the Daily Mail reported.

The highest infant mortality rates were for the extremely low birth weight babies -- twins are far more likely to have a low birth weight compared to single babies.

The figures are particularly concerning because the number of women having multiple births due to IVF has risen dramatically over the past decade.

Other ONS figures have revealed there were 15.7 multiple births per 1,000 women in 2010 -- a rise of 6.8 per cent since 2000. IVF treatment is a major contributor to the multiple pregnancy and multiple birth rate.

On average, one in five IVF pregnancies results in either twins or triplets, compared with one in 80 where the baby is conceived naturally.

Multiple pregnancies, where a woman becomes pregnant with two or more embryos, can cause complications like miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, cerebral palsy and death.

A recent study from Birmingham University had also found that parents of twins or triplets are more likely to separate.

It had found that almost a third of couples with twins or triplets got divorced, compared with less than a quarter of couples with any number of "single-born" children. The extra cost of multiple births often leads to financial hardship which can put a strain on marriages, it had claimed.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the UK also advises that no more than one embryo should be implanted because of the risk of multiple births.