Seeing Double: CDC Report Says Older Mothers, Fertility Treatments Causing Surge In Twins

By admin
January 12, 2012

If it seems as though there are more and more twins being born, it's not because you're seeing double, it's because there are.

The number of twins born in the U.S. has skyrocketed over the last three decades, a result of test-tube babies and women waiting to have children until their 30s when the chances of twins increase, a new Centers of Disease Control and Prevention study finds.

According to the report, in 2009, 1 in every 30 babies born in the U.S. was a twin, a marked increase over the 1 in 53 rate in 1980.

“When people say it seems like you see more twins nowadays, they’re right,” said epidemiologist and CDC report co-author Joyce Martin.

“You have a double whammy going on. There are more older moms and more widespread use of fertility-enhancing therapies,” Martin said.

According to the report, from 1980 through 2004, the twin birth rate rose by more than an average of 2 percent a year before leveling off to less than 1 percent annunally. In 2009, twin rates again increased in all 50 states, with the jumps highest in New England, New Jersey, and Hawaii. In Connecticut, twins now account for nearly 5 percent of births.

By 2009, 3.3 percent of all births were twins, up from 2 percent in 1980.

While black moms have historically birthed twins most often, white moms have almost caught up. Over the last three decades, rates doubled for whites, rose by half for blacks and by roughly a third for Hispanics.

The greatest increase in twin rates was for women 40 and older, who are more likely to use fertility treatments and have two embryos implanted during in vitro fertilization, as opposed to younger women who are more likely to just get one.

About 7 percent of all births for women 40 and older were twins, whereas 5 percent of women in their late 30s and 2 percent of women age 24 or younger gave birth to twins.

In addition to the impact of fertility treatments, women in their late 30s are more likely to produce multiple eggs in a cycle, further increasing their chances of twins.

The question then becomes, are more twins good news?

“It’s really important to note that outcome for twins is much less positive than for singleton pregnancies,” Martin said. “Twins tend to be born earlier and smaller...Their mothers are more likely to require hospitalization. And the twins themselves are more likely than singletons to require hospitalization."

But, Martin added, “although they are at greater risk overall, most twin births do very well.”

Hopefully, the same holds true for their mothers, who not only have one, but two newborn babies to care for.

Despite the challenges, one such mother had some helpful advice for other moms of twins: "Don’t think about it as double trouble. It’s still a double blessing."

[image via Pregnancy.com]

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