Dr. Cook recalls the most common complications associated with multiple births and shares how the risk for these complications can be decreased.
Well the most common complication would be preterm delivery. A normal singleton pregnancy delivers at about 39 to 40 weeks and you take away about three weeks for every additional fetus, or additional passenger there, so the average for twins would be about 36-37 weeks and it goes downward depending on how many you have.
So that’s our biggest concerns, but there are other risks as well. We worry about increased risk for medical complications like diabetes and hypertension or high blood pressure and we also worry about bleeding problems, increased risk for cesarean delivery. So there are a number of potential concerns to go on with multiple gestations.
I think the best thing is just close surveillance and frequent contact with the patient. We screen a number of ways for preterm labor. We look for premature shortening of the cervix by ultrasound, we have biochemical tests that we can use to swab vaginal area and look for increased risk of fetal delivery, and then we can aggressively treat that early labor if we find it.
There are other things we can do that will help the babies to perform better if they are born prematurely like antenatal steroid shots that can be given to mothers. So there’s a whole host of different things we can do in the preterm labor area.
As far as the medical complications, it’s screening for diabetes and hypertension and treating appropriately.
About Dr. Curtis Cook, M.D.:
Dr. Curtis R. Cook, M.D., is a maternal-fatal medicine specialist and the Associate Director for Phoenix Perinatal Associates providing care for women with complicated, high-risk pregnancies. Dr. Cook received his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Butterworth Hospital in Michigan.