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What Is Multiple Pregnancies And How This Happens ?

What is Multiple Pregnancies?

When one or more foetus develops in the uterus simultaneously it is called multiple pregnancies. The more commonly seen type is the twin pregnancy (two babies developing in the uterus). Very rarely we see development of three foetuses (triplets) and four foetuses (quadruplets). Medical terms for the multiple pregnancies are as below:

  • Twins – have 2 fetuses.
  • Triplets – have 3 fetuses.
  • Quadruplets – have 4 fetuses.
  • Quintuplets – have 5 fetuses.
  • Sextuplets – have 6 fetuses.
  • Septuplets – have 7 fetuses.
While multiples account only for a very small percentage of live births (that is less than 3 percent), according to the National Center for Health Statistics, twins birth rate has risen to 49% since 1980 and is currently 28.1 per every 1,000 live births. That is to say about one in every 36 births. The birth rate for triplets and other higher multiples had also risen to 423% for that same time period to about 1 in every 500 live births.

Many women who are having multiples are above the age of 30 and/or are taking more fertility drugs. Both the above boost the chances of carrying more than one baby. A woman with a family history of twins also makes the possibility of multiple births.

Sometime ago, most twins came as a surprise, but now women can know about a multiple pregnancy early through ultrasound scans. Women with multiple pregnancies are to see their doctor more often than women with a single baby. Multiple pregnancy babies are at a high risk of being born prematurely or low birth weight. There is also a more risk of disabilities. Some women have to be on bed rest to delay the labor. The delivery may be through a C-section particularly if there are 3 babies or more. Even the parenting with multiple babies can be a challenging task.

How do multiple pregnancies occur?

Multiple pregnancies occur when more than one egg is fertilized in the uterus. This is called fraternal twinnihng and results in twin boys, twin girls, or a combination of both boy and girl. Fraternal multiples are simply the siblings conceived at the same time. Just as siblings often look alike, fraternal multiples are look very similar. Fraternal multiples each will have a separate amniotic sac and placenta.

Sometimes, only one egg is fertilized and then divided into two or more embryos. This is called the identical twinning and produces all boys or all girls. Identical multiples are usually identical and look so much alike that even their own parents find it hard recognizing who is who. Identical multiples may have individual amniotic sacs and placentas but most of them share a placenta with separate sacs. Very rarely the identical twins share single amniotic sac and one placenta.

Articles you may be interested in:

Reasons For Multiple Pregnancies And The Types Of Multiples

Why Is Multiple Pregnancy A Concern ?