Curiosities: Are multiple births becoming more common?
Published: 5/5/2009

Q: Are multiple births becoming more common?

A: Between 1988 and 1997, the multiple pregnancy rate in the United States skyrocketed. The trend continued into the new century, but according to the latest statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the decades long boom in multiple births in the United States may be coming to an end.

In the year 2006, which is the most recent births data set available, a little more than 32 births in 1,000 in the United States were twins. That mirrors the numbers of twin births in 2005. But between 1980 and 2004, the U.S. experienced a 70 percent jump in the twin birth rate.

In 2006, the birth rate for triplets declined 5 percent to an incidence of a little more than 153 per 100,000 births.

The big increase in the decades since 1980 could be attributed to a couple of factors, says Dan Lebovic, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

More women, Lebovic explains, were delaying motherhood until their mid- to late 30s.

A major factor that contributed to a national increase in multiple births was the increased use of fertility treatments. The increased rate of multiple births was a cause for concern, Lebovic notes, as they are not without risk, including risk of premature birth, low birth weight and other health issues for both baby and mother.

See the Wisconsin State Journal for the original arcticle.