We already know the risk for complications, including stillbirth, is more acute when a woman is carrying multiples. Because of that, doctors will often deliver twins early, some time between 34 and 39 weeks, depending on whether the twins share a placenta. But according to Science Daily, we never really knew exactly when the best time to induce twin births is.
A new review published in The BMJ advises that twins should be delivered at 37 weeks to minimize the risk of stillbirth and death. What's more, there is no evidence to support that delivering twins before 36 weeks is advantageous.
The findings are the result of researchers looking at 32 international studies, including a whooping 35,171 twin pregnancies. In total, 29,685 dichorionic (when twins each have their own placenta) and 5,486 monochorionic (when twins share a placenta), uncomplicated pregnancies were studied, with researchers analyzing stillbirth and newborn mortality rates.
They found that when doctors waited to deliver dichorionic pregnancies until 38 weeks, the risk of stillbirth increased to 8.8 deaths per 1,000. For monochorionic pregnancies, researchers admit more study is needed before an exact recommendation can be made as when the best time is to deliver. But delivery should not take place before 36 weeks.
It's worth noting that newborn complications such as seizures and respiratory distress decreased when delivery took place later in gestational age for both types of twin pregnancies.
The bottom line: Women with dichorionic twin pregnancies should be delivered at 37 weeks, and women with monochorionic twin pregnancies should not be delivered before 36 weeks to decrease the risks for complications. If you are pregnant with twins, talk to your doctor about a delivery plan with these recommendations in mind.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.