In the "we're not suprised by this story" story of the day,
Michigan State University has released findings showing that there
has been a marked increase the the birth of twins in the last 30
The causes, say the MSU researchers, are women having children
at older ages, and increased use of fertility treatments. In 2009
one in every 30 babies born in the United States was a twin. This
is compared with one in every 53 in 1980.
The findings, presented by Michigan State University's Barbara
Luke this week at the 14th Congress of the International Society of
Twin Studies in Florence, Italy, have important health
implications, including greater morbidity and mortality risks and
higher health care costs.
"Prior to 1980, the incidence of U.S. twin births was stable at
about 2 percent of all births, but it has risen dramatically in the
past three decades," said Luke, noting twin births increased for
women of all ages, with the largest increases among women aged 30
and older. "Older maternal age accounts for about one-third of the
rise, and two-thirds is due to the increased use of fertility
Those fertility-enhancing therapies include both assisted
reproductive technologies and ovulation stimulation medications.
About 12 percent of U.S. women have had fertility therapies.
"With multiple births, though, there are greater health risks,"
said Luke a researcher in the College of Human Medicine's
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.
"Continued research is necessary to improve outcomes."
Luke, who first reported the numbers in a report with Joyce
Martin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted
births for triplets and higher numbers also grew: one in every 651
babies in 2009 compared with one in 2,702 in 1980.
In other research presented at the conference, Luke reported
early embryo loss is associated with the significantly increased
likelihood of lowered birth weight for the surviving fetuses.
Previous findings have shown mothers using fertility treatments
experience more adverse health outcomes than spontaneous-conception
pregnancies. Luke and her team hypothesized the residual effects of
fetal loss may impact the subsequent growth and birth weight of the
The 14th Congress of the International Society of Twin Studies is held
April 1-4. The conference brings together experts from across the
world to study multiple pregnancies and better understand the
health impacts, specially neurological and oncological. For more
information, go to http://www.mcaevents.org/t/01/twins-2012/index.aspx.
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