The number of women giving birth to triplets, quadruplets and other large multiple pregnancies is falling. Dr. Mulvihill explains why.
It's always headline news when there's a large number of births, but that's not to say it's a success from a medical standpoint. These days the emphasis is on fewer babies, and fewer risks.
Beautiful little babies, and lots of them.
With powerful drugs to stimulate ovulation, and the latest in reproductive technology, more and more infertile couples are having success.
It's been twenty-five years since the first test-tube baby Louise Brown was born in England.
The biggest problem is the number, the number of multiple births. And the greater the number of fetuses, the greater the risk.
For mom it means a greater risk of hypertension, anemia, placenta previa, preterm birth, c-section, even death.
And the babies are at risk for birth defects, prematurity, low birth weight, and death.
In an effort to keep the numbers and the risks down, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine established guidelines regarding the number of embryos that should be transferred into the uterus.
According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the voluntary guidelines appear to be working. The number of pregnancies with triplets or higher multiples has fallen from eleven percent in 1995 to seven percent in 2001.
And what's especially good news is that while fewer embryos have been transferred, the technique has improved and the success rate for in-vitro has jumped from twenty percent in 1995 to twenty-seven percent in 2001.