Multiple Gestation

Multiple gestation or multiple birth is the condition in which more than one fetus is carried during a single pregnancy. Multiple gestation mean twins, triplets, quadruplets or more.

In the case of multiple gestation, the siblings can come from either a single zygote or from several different zygotes. Those siblings who are formed from one single zygote are termed as mono zygotic while those who are formed from two different zygotes are known as dizygotic.

Mono zygotic siblings become multiples when that single zygote breaks into two or more embryos and each of them develops individually. The siblings created from a single zygote are always of the same sex as they have the same genetic material and are often called identical.

On the other hand dizygotic or fraternal twins are the result of multiple ova or eggs that ripen and are released from the ovaries of the mother as part of a single menstrual cycle. Such ova fertilize separately and grow into multiples. Some multiples are a combination of both identical and fraternal siblings and such multiples are termed polyzygotic .

Risks During Multiple Gestation:

There are many risks associated with multiple gestation. These include:

Incomplete Separation:

In some cases of multiple gestation, especially those which are monozygotic, the separation of the babies remains incomplete. They can even become monoamniotic, which means that they share the amniotic sac, creating a risk of entanglement in the umbilical cord that can cause complications in the development of some of the major organs.

Premature Birth and Low Weight:

The risk of premature birth is much higher in multiple gestation than in single pregnancies, over 50%. Preterm delivery often results in babies having low birth weight.

Mortality Rate:

Multiples also have a higher mortality rate than single babies. The higher the number of fetuses carried, the greater the risk that one or more will be stillborn due to the difficulties linked to the development of several embryos in a single uterus.

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