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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
"I never got more than three hours sleep"

The number of twin and multiple births are soaring warn 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.

BBC News Online talks to one mother about raising twins.

Just over two years ago Elaine Richmond's twin boys were born three months premature.

Both had to spend twelve weeks in an incubator fighting for their lives.

And one of them still suffers from a chronic lung disease, which he is expected to outgrow.

Adam and Matthew are now recovering well, but Mrs Richmond, of South London, said the financial and emotional strain on her and her husband had been enormous.

"It was very difficult when you are a parent for the first time.

"I did not get much sleep during the first few months because one of them was always wanting feeding.

"I never got more than two or three hours a day.

"It was not until they were six months old that they were first able to sleep through the night."

Financial costs

Mrs Richmond said that as well as the emotional strain of coping with two very frail little babies that she and husband Brian had to bear the increased financial outlay.

"The initial outlay is of course double the costs. You have to buy two cots; two lots of everything and even more nappies. There are no opportunities for hand me down clothes."

Mrs Richmond said she had also to make a difficult decision about whether or not to go back to her job as a practice manager in a health centre following the birth.

She chose to return to work, but admitted that the cost of sending two children for child care put many parents off.

"If you have a career you have to think about whether it is viable to go back to work, because it is double the amount of cash."

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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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