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Fertility Drugs behind Many Twins and Triplets, according to CDC

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Fertility Drugs behind Many Twins and Triplets, according to CDC
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A recent study that was produced by the CDC is now showing that twins and triplets are increasing in numbers because women are being given drugs to help them produce eggs. In the past, it was believed that multiple births were caused due to the multiple embryos that were implanted via IVF or from lab dish fertilization, but this is no longer the case.

1. Statistics

It is estimated that over a third of the twins that are born in the United States as well as three quarters of the triplets and even higher for multiple births, are caused by fertility treatments, regardless of the type of treatment that is chosen. This research was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention with the help from Brown University. The results were published in New England Journal of Medicine.

statistics-shows-over-a-third-of-the-twins-that-are-born-in-the-United-States-three-quarters-of-the-triplets-and-even-higher-for-multiple-births

2. Risks

One of the downsides of having multiple births is that it not only raises the medical risks for moms and babies, but it also raises the cost of the hospital stay. After the 2009 case of a California woman who became pregnant with octuplets following the implantation of 12 embryos from an IVF treatment, guidelines have been urged in order to decrease the number of embryos that are allowed to be transferred.

One-of-the-downsides-of-having-multiple-births-is-that-it-not-only-raises-the-medical-risks-for-moms-and-babies

3. Alternatives

However, there are many cases of infertility that are not treated by IVF. Instead, they are treated by other methods, such as drugs in order to encourage the ovaries to produce more eggs. More than likely, a doctor will first prescribe the drug Clomid if a woman is having trouble becoming pregnant.

alternate-way-in-order-to-encourage-the-ovaries-to-produce-more-eggs-is-clomid

There are also other drugs that can be given if Clomid is not successful and these are much stronger. Drugs that require an injection are even more likely to produce multiple eggs that will be released while the drugs are working in a woman’s body.

4. What should the doctors do?

When couples are given fertility drugs, especially ones that are stronger, doctors should monitor the number of eggs that are being produced and help the couple understand when the best time to attempt to conceive is.

doctors-should-monitor-the-number-of-eggs-that-are-being-produced

By knowing how many eggs are produced each month, couples will be able to avoid conception during months when multiple eggs have been released. This will help decrease the number of twins and triplets and multiple births that are born in order to make the pregnancy healthier and keep hospital costs to a minimum.

5. Why is this not followed?

While many doctors do not monitor couples as they should, sometimes a couple may go ahead and try to conceive during this time after the doctor has instructed them not to. It is natural to become frustrated when you’re trying to become pregnant, having difficulties and being told that you must wait a month before you try again.

couples-become-frustrated-when-trying-to-become-pregnant-but-having-difficulties

For couples who have been trying for several months to become pregnant, knowing that there are many eggs available for fertilization make it tempting to try and conceive during this time to give them a better chance of becoming pregnant.

6. Trends

This study has been conducted by the CDC and has shown that the rates of triplet births peaked out in the year 1998. Since that time, the number of triplets and higher that have been born has been declining. However, between 1998 and 2011, the twin births that have been born after the mother has undergone an IVF treatment have increased from 10% to 17%.

multiple-birth-has-increased-after-the-mother-has-undergone-an-IVF-treatmentLikewise, triplet and multiple births from the non-IVF treatments have increased from 36% to 45% during the same time. These births are typically from women who have used fertility drugs or other non-IVF treatments.

7. Conclusion

Along with an increased hospital stay and risks to the mother and child, there is also an increased chance that a C-section will be needed for women who have multiple births. It is estimated that having twins costs about $105,000 whereas triplets or more can add up to over $400,000.

These studies have increased the decision to push the fact that only one embryo should be implanted when couples are trying to become pregnant the IVF. However, it is also showing that by taking fertility drugs, it is more likely that you will have multiple births when you do become pregnant.



Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.

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