The number of congenital anomalies, or birth defects, arising from multiple births has almost doubled since the 1980s, say medicos in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The University of Ulster study, conducted from 1984 to 2007, showed that within the European population studied there was a 50 percent rise in the multiple birth rate over the 24-year period. The study also found that the prevalence of congenital anomalies from multiple births increased from 6 to 11 per 10,000 births.
The authors indicate that this increase may be related to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF. "The increase in multiple birth rates may be explained by changes in maternal age and increased use of ART. It is clear that more research needs to be done to determine the contribution of ART to the risk of congenital anomalies in multiple births," said researcher Helen Dolk. "Extra specialized help should be put in place for affected families, recognizing than there are now nearly double as many affected families than there were 20 years ago."
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Source: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology