Study Shows Improved Outlook for Triplets
Leondires says patients should be given this information along with all the other facts about triplet pregnancies, including the potential problems. He says, specifically, that there is a 10-15% chance one triplet will have cerebral palsy; that triplets may have to spend more than two months in the hospital nursery before they can go home; that the parents will need outside help in the form of family, friends, or paid workers to care for the babies; and that the family dynamic will change dramatically.
"You're talking about 50 bottles a day, 25 diapers a day, a 30-40% risk of depression in the mother, and a 20% incidence of divorce among the couples," he says. "It's very hard for patients to look down the line at the implications, but I tell people that they have to look within themselves and decide whether they themselves, their family structure, and their resources will be OK with going ahead with triplets."
Still, the decision whether to have triplets, twins, or just one baby is a personal one that depends on many different factors, Leondires says.
Gabriella Pridjian, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans, agrees.
She tells WebMD that the best advice for couples faced with a multiple birth is to gather as much information as possible from maternal-fetal medicine specialists, fertility specialists, and neonatologists and make an informed decision based on their own situation.
The study, she says, "is good news in the sense that [for those who choose] not having a reduction, the outcome may be equal; and for couples that are concerned that fetal reduction may not be appropriate for them for social and religious reasons, they can rest somewhat assured that carrying a triplet pregnancy is likely about the same as having a reduction."