Why Twins (or More) Are Not the Answer
by Dr. John Storment
“But Dr. Storment, we WANT twins!”
This is a phrase I hear in my office at least once a week from patients trying to conceive. It is a common thought with many infertile couples that “we have been trying for so long, we could have our full family instantly!”
Because the cost of fertility treatment is high and is usually not covered by insurance, the idea of “two babies for the price of one” is an attractive proposition. So many couples hedge their bets and gamble that more eggs at the time of IUI or transferring multiple embryos for IVF will increase the chances of getting pregnant.
Yes, I know, twins and triplets are cute, receive admiring looks on outings and get lots of hearts on Instagram. But, before you start planning for twins along with your fertility treatment, make sure you know the risks of complications that go along with them for both mothers and their babies.
Multiple gestation brings risks to both baby and mother
Mothers of twins and higher order multiples are more likely to experience high blood pressure and preeclampsia which can lead to seizures, gestational diabetes, infection and even death. And, the more babies there are in the womb, the more likely it is that the pregnancy will end in miscarriage, premature delivery, or stillbirth.
Premature babies can have problems with their lungs, stomach, and bowels, and even die. Some require long stays in the neonatal intensive care unit. Prematurity can also cause problems with bleeding in the brain, which can lead to problems with the baby’s nervous system and development. Other issues include problems with movement and mental retardation, including cerebral palsy.
Then, add into the health risks the financial and emotional costs of having complications during pregnancy and possibly premature babies with lots of health problems. Delivery and newborn care for twins costs four times higher when compared to a singleton birth. For triplets or higher, multiply it by about 12. While your health insurance may pay for the majority of these costs, we all pay later in the form of increased insurance premiums and higher healthcare costs.
And, looking years ahead, the cost of caring for children with lifelong disabilities is also high. Think developmental delays and health problems, continuous doctor appointments and possibly even hospitalization, special education and physical handicaps.
Have I changed your mind yet on wanting twins? I sincerely hope so. Fertility specialists like me all want to see our patients successfully conceive. But more than anything, our ultimate goal is for a healthy baby who has the greatest potential for a successful future.
Dr. John Storment sees patients in our Lafayette fertility clinic