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The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"The number of multiple births has soared"
 real 56k

Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 03:39 GMT 04:39 UK
Number of twins on increase
Babies
The number of twin births has dramatically increased
The number of twin and multiple births are soaring according to health experts who blame the increase on fertility treatments and older mothers.

Just 10 years ago the chances of having a twin birth was one in 50, now one in 37 children is born as a twin.

Doctors say the increase in multiple births will have a serious financial impact on the NHS as twins and multiple births are often born prematurely and need extensive treatment.


We will be looking at the cost to the parents in both emotional and financial terms and how very stressful it can be for them

Dr Elizabeth Bryan

The 10th International Congress on Twin Studies, will hear from the world's experts on twins and triplets about the problems this dramatic increase will have.

Nearly 10,000 multiple births were recorded last year in England and Wales, but experts say the rates are increasing fast with the spread of fertility treatments, which now account for a quarter of twin births.

The number of triplets has also increased, even quadrupling in some countries. In Nigeria mothers have a one in 13 chance of having a twin.

The fact that mothers are choosing to have their children later is also having an impact on the number of twins, as the older a women is when she conceives the greater her chance of a multiple birth.

Babies

Dr Elizabeth Bryan, the founder of the Multiple Births Foundation and a paediatrician at Queen Charlottes Hospital, London, said the conference would be looking at the financial and emotional cost of multiple births.

"The risks of having a disabled child are much higher with triplets.

"If you have triplets you are 10 times more likely to have a child with cerebral palsy than if you have a single child and your chances of having a disabled child are three times more likely."

"We will be looking at the cost to the parents in both emotional and financial terms and how very stressful it can be for them."

The conference will also consider the genetic behaviour of twins; their foetal development; diseases and psychology.

Raising twins

Judy Linney, a mother of twins and a founder of the Multiple Births and Twins Association (TAMBA), said having more than one baby brought multiple strains to parents.

She said when she discovered she was carrying twins just a months before their birth that she had been shocked and worried.

"It was very difficult I did not have any family living near.

"Financially it was very difficult to cope with two babies and because one of the twins was very small when she was born she needed much more feeding and that made things very difficult."

Now her identical twins Zareena and Shareen are 26 and living very individual lives.

But Mrs Linney admitted that although she loves her daughters, the stress of having two babies together had put her off having any more children.

The conference runs at the Imperial College, London, until 7 July.

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See also:

21 Dec 98 | Medical notes
Multiple births and fertility treatment
26 May 01 | UK
Woman has twins at 56
01 Aug 00 | Wales
Birth of twins defies odds
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