Twins & triplets have greater odds of needing a NICU

tripletsToday, more than 3 percent of babies in this country are born in sets of two, three or more; about 95 percent of these multiple births are twins. The high number of multiple pregnancies is a concern because women who are expecting more than one baby are at increased risk of certain pregnancy complications, including premature birth (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy).

About 60 percent of twins, more than 90 percent of triplets, and virtually all quadruplets and higher-order multiples are born premature. The length of pregnancy decreases with each additional baby. On average, most singleton pregnancies last 39 weeks; for twins, 35 weeks; for triplets, 32 weeks; and for quadruplets, 29 weeks.

More than half of twins and almost all higher-order multiples are born with low birthweight (LBW), less than 5½ pounds or 2,500 grams.  LBW can result from premature birth and/or poor fetal growth. Both are common in multiple pregnancies.

LBW babies, especially those born before about 32 weeks gestation and/or weighing less than 3 1/3 pounds (1,500 grams), are at increased risk of health problems in the newborn period as well as lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy,  and vision and hearing loss.   While advances in caring for very small infants has brightened the outlook for these tiny babies, chances remain slim that all infants in a set of sextuplets or more will survive and thrive.

Preeclampsia and diabetes in the mother are two conditions that, for the safety of the mother and baby, can lead to an early delivery. Women expecting twins are more than twice as likely as women with a singleton pregnancy to develop preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes can cause the baby to grow especially large, increasing the risk of injuries to mother and baby during vaginal birth and making cesarean delivery more likely.  Babies born to women with gestational diabetes also may have breathing and other problems during the newborn period.

Have you or someone in your family had twins or triplets?  Were they in the NICU?

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10 Responses to “Twins & triplets have greater odds of needing a NICU”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    My twins were born at 32 weeks. They were in the NICU for 3 weeks, basically in the feed and grow room. The nurses at North Shore University hospital were amazing!!!! Today at 4 months they are doing fantastic.

  2. Jennifer Scheller Says:

    My twins were 29 weekers, both got NEC they both made it through. Adam came home with a illeostomy and short gut. Alex did not have to have any surgeries. Both boys had PDA’s which were closed with indocine. Adam was on life support for almost two months and has endured 3 surgeries so far. total NICU stay was 3 months for Alex and 4 months for Adam.

  3. Annette Says:

    Yes! I have twins that were born at 32w 2d. They were very sick at birth and spent 5 weeks in the NICU. The first 2 weeks were very scary. I wish I had been better prepared and more aware of the real risks of preterm birth. I certainly don’t take for granted that I have TWO normal, very healthy and happy boys… they’ll be 2 next month!

  4. Lindsay Says:

    Stephanie, it’s wonderful to hear that your little ones are doing so well.

    Jennifer, your boys have been through so much! Overcoming NEC is huge, and closing the PDA with meds is so much better than surgery. I hope Adam is on the mend and that both boys are growing stronger daily.

    Annette, I’m glad to hear that your sick babies overcame their problems and are doing well now. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Natasha Says:

    My darling twins were born at 37w 3d, weighing in at 6 lbs. 3 oz. and 6 lbs. 8 oz. Never a need for NICU with their perfect health and wonderful size! Now at almost 4.5 months, they are pushing 14 and 15 lbs, and we do know how blessed we are. God is miraculous!

  6. Natasha Says:

    In follow-up to my previous post, my aunt-in-law (no blood relation) also had twins 4 months ago, born via C-section at 39 weeks. Each weighing 7+ lbs at birth, they are happy healthy little boys. Again, we serve a miraculous God!

  7. hidie grimm Says:

    I just found out I was going to have a baby 3 mounths ago and was already 7 mounths pregant and started to swell up my ob told me to stop my salt intake and made me do a pee test and I was spling 9 grams of protein and that is triple the amount and that would explain my headacks and blurried vison , and then that night i went to the er and they rushed me up to the UWMC and now here i am my baby was born 2.9 oz now 4 weeks later she is 4.4 oz and i am doing better as well , my advice learn to just breath and rexlax and know that God is watching over you.

  8. Lindsay Says:

    Hidie – That must have been so scary for you! I’m glad the doc sent you right to the hospital. It’s good to hear that you and your baby are doing well now. I hope that you and she are home soon and continue to grow stronger every day. This makes me think how important it is to tell your doctor whenever you’re not feeling right.

  9. Jeff Says:

    My wife and I are at 37 weeks today with fraternal twins! AMEN. This is the third pregnancy (3yr old and 1yr old) so we are witnesses that it is possible!

  10. Lindsay Says:

    Congratulations Jeff. You and your wife are about to have your hands really full! Best wishes to all of you!