Fertility Treatment Twins More at Risk for Hospitalizations

WEDNESDAY May 20, 2009 -- Compared to naturally conceived twins, those conceived through assisted reproductive technology (ART) are more likely to be hospitalized and admitted to neonatal intensive care, finds a new study.

Researchers analyzed outcomes and hospital admissions for all twins born in Western Australia between 1994 and 2000.

"We found that twins conceived following ART treatment had a greater risk of adverse perinatal outcome, including preterm birth, low birth weight and death, compared with spontaneously conceived twins of unlike sex [ULS SC]. ART twins had more than double the risk of perinatal death compared to ULS SC twins, although the risk was similar to that of all [spontaneously conceived] twins, including identical twins," Michele Hansen, a researcher and Ph.D. student at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Western Australia, said in a news release.

"ART twins stayed longer in hospital than ULS SC twins at the time of their birth: an average of 12 days compared with eight days. ART twins were four times more likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care than ULS SC twins, and were more likely to be admitted to hospital during the first three years of their life," Hansen said.

"After adjusting for confounding factors such as year of birth, maternal age, parity and so on, ART twins still had a nearly two-thirds higher risk of being admitted to neonatal intensive care, and a higher risk of being admitted to hospital in their first three years of life, although this was only statistically significant in their second year, when their risk was nearly two-thirds higher," she said.

It's not clear why ART twins are more likely to have worse outcomes and to require hospitalization.

"The underlying causes of parental infertility and/or components of the ART procedure may be increasing the risks of adverse outcome, and increased concern about children born after a long period of infertility may also be contributing to their increased risk of hospitalization," Hansen suggested.

She recommended that couples undergoing fertility treatment should be made aware of the increased risks faced by ART twins.

The study appears online May 20 in the journal Human Reproduction.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about ART.

Posted: May 2009


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