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Multiple birth rate rises due to fertility treatment

Published 08/10/2015

The rate of multiple births has increased to 16 per 1,000 women giving birth
The rate of multiple births has increased to 16 per 1,000 women giving birth

Fertility treatment is leading to a rise in the multiple birth rate, especially among women over 45, according to new figures.

Data for England and Wales shows there were 10,839 women who gave birth to twins in 2014, while a further 148 gave birth to triplets and two to quads.

The rate of multiple births increased to 16 per 1,000 women giving birth, compared with 15.6 in 2013.

Overall, the multiple birth rate has increased since 1976, when there were 9.6 per 1,000 women.

Women aged 45 and over had by far the highest rate in 2014 (105.5 per 1,000 births), which has increased by 11% since 2013.

The report, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said: "Although most multiple births occur naturally, many occur as a result of fertility treatment.

"On average, one in six of IVF pregnancies are a multiple pregnancy, compared to one in 80 for women who conceive naturally.

"With approximately 18,000 IVF babies born in the UK in 2013, this contributes significantly to the multiple birth rate.

"The high multiple maternity rate among women aged 45 and over is a result of higher levels of assisted fertility treatments (including medicines which stimulate ovulation and assisted conception which includes IVF) at these ages."

Keith Reed, chief executive of the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), said: "This rise in the number of multiple births is a wake-up call for anyone who works in maternity care.

"NHS England are currently conducting a review of maternity services across the country.

"We call for them to ensure proper care pathways are put in place for multiple pregnancies as too many babies' lives are being put at risk by a failure to provide specialist care."

There were more births of boys in 2014 in England and Wales than girls, the ONS data also showed.

Of 695,233 live births, 338,461 were girls and 356,772 were boys.

The percentage of women giving birth at home was 2.3% in 2014, unchanged since 2012.

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