Many parents expecting multiples are worried that they will be premature
The Multiples NZ Medical Advisor, Dr Emma Parry, defines preterm birth as: “when birth occurs after 20 weeks gestation and up to 36 weeks and 6 days.” Babies born between 24 and 28 weeks are known as extremely premature.
The average pregnancy length for twins is 37 weeks, with 34 weeks for triplets and 32 for quads—this means a lot of twins (40%) are premature, most triplets (90%) will be preterm, and all higher-order multiple gestations. So, most parents expecting multiples will quickly learn that one of the main risks they face is having premature babies.
The good news is that the medical care pre-term babies receives is constantly evolving and improving, which is resulting in high survival rates for these babies. Recent research indicates that there is very little difference in the survival rates of premature multiples, compared to singletons of the same gestational age. Survival to discharge for premature babies is about 79% at 24 to 26 weeks, and 98% at 30 to 32 weeks—and these parameters are being constantly moved back, with the survival of extremely premature babies.
For more information about premature birth, click here.
Premature Multiples 2011 Survey Snapshots (458 downloads)
For information about the signs & symptoms of premature labour, click here.