Twins Common Problems

The most common complications include the following:

  • Preterm labor and birth. Over 60 percent of twins and nearly all higher-order multiples are premature (born before 37 weeks). …
  • Gestational hypertension. …
  • Anemia. …
  • Birth defects. …
  • Miscarriage. …
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

Twin pregnancies are among the most frequent of all pregnancies, occurring in approximately 15 percent of women. Additionally, they may be the only pregnancy in a couple’s history. The most common problems in twins include: preterm labor and birth; gestational hypertension; anemia; birth defects; miscarriage; twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome

There are many common problems associated with twins, including preterm labor and birth, gestational hypertension, anemia, miscarriage and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

The most common complications of twins include premature birth and anemia. Twins that are born early may have problems like gestational hypertension, anemia, and birth defects. Miscarriage can also be a complication of twins.

Are Twins More Likely To Have Disabilities

Being pregnant with more than one baby is exciting and is often a happy event for many couples. However, multiple pregnancy has increased risks for complications. The most common complications include the following:

  • Preterm labor and birthOver 60 percent of twins and nearly all higher-order multiples are premature (born before 37 weeks). The higher the number of fetuses in the pregnancy, the greater the risk for early birth. Premature babies are born before their bodies and organ systems have completely matured. These babies are often small, with low birthweights (less than 2,500 grams or 5.5 pounds), and they may need help breathing, eating, fighting infection, and staying warm. Very premature babies, those born before 28 weeks, are especially vulnerable. Many of their organs may not be ready for life outside the mother’s uterus and may be too immature to function well. Many multiple birth babies will need care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
  • Gestational hypertensionWomen with multiple fetuses are more than twice as likely to develop high blood pressure of pregnancy. This condition often develops earlier and is more severe than pregnancy with one baby. It can also increase the chance of placental abruption (early detachment of the placenta).
  • AnemiaAnemia is more than twice as common in multiple pregnancies as in a single birth.
  • Birth defectsMultiple birth babies have about twice the risk of congenital (present at birth) abnormalities including neural tube defects (such as spina bifida), gastrointestinal, and heart abnormalities.
  • MiscarriageA phenomenon called the vanishing twin syndrome in which more than one fetus is diagnosed, but vanishes (or is miscarried), usually in the first trimester, is more likely in multiple pregnancies. This may or may not be accompanied by bleeding. The risk of pregnancy loss is increased in later trimesters as well.
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndromeTwin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a condition of the placenta that develops only with identical twins that share a placenta. Blood vessels connect within the placenta and divert blood from one fetus to the other. It occurs in about 15 percent of twins with a shared placenta.In TTTS, blood is shunted from one fetus to the other through blood vessel connections in a shared placenta. Over time, the recipient fetus receives too much blood, which can overload the cardiovascular system and cause too much amniotic fluid to develop. The smaller donor fetus does not get enough blood and has low amounts of amniotic fluid. Learn more about TTTS.
Illustration of a twin birth, twin to twin transfusion
  • Abnormal amounts of amniotic fluidAmniotic fluid abnormalities are more common in multiple pregnancies, especially for twins that share a placenta.
  • Cesarean deliveryAbnormal fetal positions increase the chances of cesarean birth.
  • Postpartum hemorrhageThe large placental area and over-distended uterus place a mother at risk for bleeding after delivery in many multiple pregnancies.

Having Twins Ruined My Life

No pregnancy is entirely free of risks. But carrying twins can put you and your babies at increased risk for certain pregnancy-related complications, including premature birth and diabetes. Don’t let this alarm you. With good prenatal care, you can greatly increase your chances of enjoying a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies.

What Are My Risks?

With twins, you’re at greater risk for:

Premature birth. Twins are born prematurely more than half the time. That’s before the end of 36 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have health problems as newborns. Sometimes they also have lasting disabilities.

Low birth weight (LBW). More than half of twins are born with LBW, weighing less than 5 1/2 pounds. LBW babies are at increased risk of health problems after birth, such as:

However, know that this is more likely if babies are born before 32 weeks or weighing less than 3 1/3 pounds.

Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). This condition affects about 10% of identical twins, who share a placenta. TTTS develops when a connection between the babies’ blood vessels allows one baby to get too little blood and the other too much. A doctor can treat TTTS with laser surgery to seal off the vessel connection or with amniocentesis to drain excess amniotic fluid.

PreeclampsiaYou are more than twice as likely to develop preeclampsia than women carrying one baby. Preeclampsia is marked by:

  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Vision changes

If you have this, you may need early delivery to prevent serious complications. If not treated, preeclampsia can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients and can damage your organs.

Gestational diabetesIf you develop diabetes (high blood sugar) during pregnancy, your babies may grow too big. Delivering big babies increases your risk of complications during delivery, and may require you to deliver by cesarean. Your babies may also have breathing problems and low blood sugar when they are born. But you can take steps, such as with diet, to lower your risk.

Iron deficiency anemia. A lack of healthy red blood cells from too little iron can lead to premature birth. Be sure to add iron to your diet as recommended by your doctor.

Yes, these are serious risks, but try not to worry too much. With good prenatal care, you and your doctor can lower your risk and spot any problems earlier, rather than later. Then you can work with your doctor to manage and minimize the impact of any complications.

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