Twins have 5x higher chance of dying in first year than single babies
TWINS are five times more likely to die than single babies in their first year of life, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics in Britain.
The ONS data show the infant mortality rate for twins in England and Wales in 2009 was 20.1 per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.0 for ‘singletons’.
Triplets are more than eight times more likely to die than single babies in the first year, with a death rate of 34.9 per 1,000.
The increase in IVF treatment over past decades has led to a steep rise in the number of ‘multiple births’ in Britain, as elsewhere in the world.
Fertility doctors have historically transplanted more than one embryo into the womb, to maximise the chance of the woman successfully giving birth.
But numerous studies have shown that the chance of having a baby is almost as good, for most women undergoing IVF, if only one embryo is transferred into the womb at a time, as if two or more are put in.
Consequently, there is now a major drive to reduce the frequency of multiple births, because of the higher risks to both babies and mothers.
As well as an increased chance of death in the first year, twins and triplets carry a greater risk of being born prematurely, being of low birth weight, having cerebral palsy and developmental disorders.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) wants fertility clinics to reduce the proportion of multiple births. In 2009 it set the ceiling at 24 per cent and it has brought the target down year on year. This year the ceiling is 10 per cent, which many clinics believe is not achievable.