March 17, 2010

Triplet Births On The Rise

The mortality rate of infants is down, and the frequency of triplet births is on the rise, according to findings from a team of Norwegian scientists that were made public on Tuesday.

The researchers analyzed over 2 million pregnancies during a 40-year span from 1967 through 2006, and discovered that the rate of triplet births has increased nearly 2.5-times what it was in the 1970s, with 2.7 occurring per 10,000 pregnancies.

Furthermore, though the death rate for single, twin and triplet pregnancies all fell over the past four decades, deaths are still 10-times as likely to occur during triplet births than single-child ones.

"Advances in obstetric practice and perinatal care have increased the survival of very preterm infants," Dr. Anne Tandberg of the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen told Reuters on Tuesday. "However ... the improvements have not been so favorable for triplets compared to twins and singletons."

The study, which was published in the BJOG International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, did not include cases of pregnancy by in vitro fertilization.

According to Reuters reporter Kate Kelland, "The researchers...said the increase in triplet pregnancies was probably due to use of hormone drugs to stimulate ovulation and a rise in the average age of mothers...The results mean more effort is needed to control such treatments to cut the number of triplet pregnancies."

Tandberg also said that the study established the 28th week of gestation as a key point in a child's survival, particularly among triplet pregnancies. Before that point, she told Kelland, the fetal death rate is 50-percent. Afterwards, the fatality rate dips to just 3.8-percent.


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