Earlier Birth Best for Twins, Study Suggests

by Julie Snyder

Early Birth Best for TwinsYou're pregnant with twins. If you're like many moms-to-be, you're hoping to keep them baking until the perfect time for birth.

A new study, released by the University of Adelaide, suggests the optimal time might be sooner than you think.

Researchers found that at 37 weeks, an elective birth significantly reduced the risks for babies without increasing complications related to immaturity or induced labor.

Twins Do Best When Born Earlier

Twin pregnancies are considered full term at 37 to 38 weeks, compared to a singleton pregnancy at 40 weeks.

For singletons, it's pretty clear. The babies born at 39 or 40 weeks have an advantage. Those born too early, face complications immediately after birth and as they continue to grow.

With twins, things are a bit more cloudy. Research with multiples shows that after 38 weeks, the risks increase. Towards the end of a multiple pregnancy, one or both of the babies' growth can be delayed.

Clinicians have debated about the ideal timing for twin births. Some advised that moms-to-be of twins have their babies at 37 weeks. Others advocated waiting until 38 or 39 weeks.

If you have an uncomplicated twin pregnancy, what's the best time to have your babies? This study was designed to answer that question.

About the Twin Birth Study

In the world's biggest study addressing the timing of birth for women who have an uncomplicated twin pregnancy, researchers followed 235 women expecting twins in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. They took nearly eight years to recruit the moms-to-be of twins and spent another two years gathering and analyzing the results.

They found that babies born to women who gave birth at 37 weeks were significantly less likely to be small for their gestational age compared with babies born to women who gave birth at 38 weeks or later.

Lead researcher, Professor Jodie Dodd from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute and the Women's & Children's Hospital says, "Infants of a twin pregnancy are recognised to be at risk of problems during pregnancy, particularly from a slowing of the rate of growth in one or both twins."

"This slowing of the growth rate can result in low birth weight, which is associated with an increased need for care in the neonatal nursery in the short term and increased risk of health problems in later life, including heart disease and diabetes. There is also the risk of one or both twins being stillborn," Dodd continued.

"We hope this study will help clinicians to make recommendations to women with healthy twin pregnancies that lead to less complications at birth, and therefore lead to happier, healthier lives for their babies," says Dodd.

Are you a mom-to-be with twins? Will this study affect your birthing choices? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Medical references:
- University of Adelaide (2012, June 13). "Earlier birth, at 37 weeks, is best for twins, study suggests." University News and Events, Media Release. Retrieved June 14, 2012.