Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

Font Size

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction - Topic Overview

Multifetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) is a procedure used to reduce the number of fetuses in a multiple pregnancy, usually to two. When a pregnancy involves three or more fetuses (high-order pregnancy), the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, and lifelong disability increase with each additional fetus.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) and fertility drugs have greatly increased the number of multiple pregnancies.

The goal of MFPR is to increase the chance of a successful, healthy pregnancy. Multifetal pregnancy reduction:

  • Is usually done early in a pregnancy, between the 9th and 12th weeks.
  • Is most often done when there are four or more fetuses present.
  • Can be used to reduce triplets to twins.
  • Is known as "selective termination" when it involves a fetus with severe defects or one that is expected to die later in the pregnancy, which would threaten the life of the surviving fetus or fetuses.


The most common method of fetal reduction is transabdominal (through the belly) MFPR. For this procedure, the doctor uses ultrasound as a guide and inserts a needle through the woman's abdomen and into the uterus to the selected fetus. The doctor injects the fetus with a potassium chloride solution, which stops the fetal heart.

Because it is very small during the first trimester, the dead fetus is usually absorbed by the mother's body. This may include some vaginal bleeding. This absorption process is the same process that happens in the vanishing twin syndrome.


When there are three or more fetuses in the uterus, their risks of disability or death are higher with each additional fetus. A successful MFPR increases the chances of healthy survival for the remaining fetuses and reduces risks to you. But MFPR sometimes leads to miscarriage of the remaining fetuses, preterm labor, or infection.

What to think about

The decision to have a multifetal pregnancy reduction is difficult and traumatic. If you are faced with this decision, talk to your doctor about your personal risks from trying to carry multiple fetuses to term compared to the risks of choosing MFPR. Also consider discussing your decision with a counselor or spiritual adviser.

Multiple Pregnancy: Should I Consider a Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction?

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend careful use of infertility treatment in the effort to avoid the risks of a triplet-or-more pregnancy and of MFPR. When embryos are transferred to the uterus, this means limiting the number of embryos that are transferred for each treatment cycle.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Four pregnant women standing in a row
    How much do you know about conception?
    Couple with surrogate mother
    Which one is right for you?
    couple lying in grass holding hands
    Why Dad's health matters.
    couple viewing positive pregnancy test
    6 ways to improve your chances.
    Which Treatment Is Right For You
    Conception Myths
    eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
    Charting Your Fertility Cycle
    Fertility Specialist
    Understanding Fertility Symptoms
    invitro fertilization