Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Multiple births, multiple headaches?

About a quarter of women who undergo IVF give birth to more than one baby. How's this for unintended consequences?

According to a study published in this month's edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility, women face increased psychosocial risks with each increase in birth multiplicity (singleton, twin, triplet) resulting from assisted reproduction. Based on survey responses from 249 women, researchers concluded that, for each additional multiple-birth child, the odds of having difficulty meeting basic material needs more than tripled. The odds of lower quality of life--as well as the odds of increased social stigma--more than doubled. Each increase in multiplicity was also associated with increased risks of maternal depression.

Anybody want to make a bet about whether physicians will share this information with women who seek infertility treatment? And if not, have women really had the opportunity to make an informed decision?

The study was performed by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the RAND Corporation. (Ellison MA et al. Psychosocial risks associated with multiple births resulting from assisted reproduction. Fertil Steril 2005;83(5):1422-1428.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, just anecdotally, I have read on infertility blogs of women definitely being 'warned off' multiple births by their specialists. I have gained the impression that this is because the doctor sees couples who are gung-ho about twins or triplets, perhaps thinking "since getting pregnant is so hard for us we may as well go for an instant family". So then the practitioner tries to get them to be very realistic about the risks associated.

Then again I was reading on someone's blog that some surprisingly large percentage of parents of multiples, if offered the option of magically having exactly the same children, but in sequence rather than via one pregnancy, would take the whole experience all over again. I kind of boggled at this, but then thinking about how much fun my twins have together, it wouldn't be the same if they had been born separately.