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Health & Pregnancy

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Twins in Demand Through IVF?

Despite some couples' desires, doctors counsel against trying for twins through in vitro fertilization.

IVF Cost, Insurance a Factor continued...

Perloe and Muasher practice in states where insurance companies aren't required to cover IVF. That leaves patients to shoulder IVF costs themselves.

Those costs can add up quickly.

The average U.S. cost for one IVF cycle is about $12,500, says Elizabeth Ginsburg, MD, president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and the medical director of assisted reproductive technologies at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"For some people, they can afford it once and that's it," Ginsburg tells WebMD. But IVF doesn't always succeed in the first cycle.

The Glasses spent $22,000 out of their own pockets for three rounds of IVF.

"We're still paying for them," Glass says of her twin daughters. "We didn't go in there and say, 'We'd like twins.' It was, 'We can't get pregnant, we need your help, this is the only way we can do it.'"

Even in states where insurance covers IVF, some patients still want twins. Ginsburg hears that from women nearing the end of their childbearing years, people who think twins are "cute," and people who want two kids but only one pregnancy. "They feel like it's just very efficient that way," Ginsburg says.

Medical Risks of Multiple Births

Health experts -- including all the doctors interviewed for this story -- don't approve of trying for twins because it's a risky undertaking. Those risks include:

  • Infant death: Twins are five times more likely than single-birth babies to die within a month of birth.
  • Preterm birth: Twins and other multiples are much more likely than single babies to be born early. According to the CDC, 60% of all U.S. twins born in 2006 were born prematurely, compared to 11% of single babies. And 12% of twins were born very preterm (before 32 weeks of gestation), compared to about 2% of single babies.
  • Low birth weight: Twins and other multiples are more likely than single babies to be born at a low birth weight. The CDC reports that about 58% of U.S. twins born in 2006 were born at low birth weight, compared to 6% of single babies. And 10% of twins were born at very low birth weight, compared to 1% of single babies.
  • Birth defects including cerebral palsy are more common in babies born prematurely.
  • Risks to the mother: Women pregnant with more than one baby are at higher risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and bleeding before or after delivery, compared to women carrying one baby.

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