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Excess risk of mortality in very low birthweight triplets: a national, population based study
  1. E S Shinwell1,
  2. I Blickstein1,
  3. A Lusky2,
  4. B Reichman2,
  5. In Collaboration With The Israel Neonatal Network
  1. 1Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
  2. 2Women and Children Health Research Unit, Gertner Institute, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Shinwell, Department of Neonatology, Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, Israel;


Background: Neonatal morbidity and mortality differ between singletons, twins, and triplets.

Objective: To evaluate whether plurality is associated with excess risk of neonatal morbidity and poor outcome (death, chronic lung disease, or adverse neurological findings) in very low birthweight (VLBW) infants from a national, population based cohort.

Methods: The Israel national VLBW infant database has prospectively collected extensive perinatal and neonatal data on all liveborn VLBW infants since 1995. The study sample (n = 5594) consisted of all singletons (n = 3717) and all complete sets of twins (n = 1394) and triplets (n = 483) born during 1995–1999. To account for differences in case-mix, both univariate and multivariate comparisons that included confounding variables such as antenatal steroid treatment and mode of delivery were performed for each of the outcome variables.

Results: There was a small inverse correlation between gestational age (GA) and birth weight (BW) and the number of fetuses (singletons: GA 28.9 (2.6) weeks, BW 1096 (269) g; twins: GA 28.4 (2.3) weeks, BW 1062 (271) g; triplets: GA 28.5 (2.4) weeks, BW 1049 (259) g). Triplets were significantly more likely to have been conceived following fertility treatments, to have received antenatal steroids, and to be delivered by caesarean section. Respiratory distress syndrome was significantly more common in twins and triplets in spite of the increased exposure to antenatal steroids. Multivariate logistic regression analysis using all significant perinatal covariates showed that triplets were at increased risk of death (odds ratio (OR) 1.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13 to 2.11), but not of adverse neurological outcome (OR 1.29, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.85) or chronic lung disease (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.02).

Conclusion: Despite considerable differences in the incidence of confounding variables between the groups, VLBW triplets are at increased risk of death compared with twins and singletons. In addition, VLBW twins and triplets more often have respiratory distress syndrome but not chronic lung disease or adverse neurological findings.

  • triplets
  • multiple pregnancy
  • preterm infants
  • mortality
  • VLBW, very low birth weight
  • RDS, respiratory distress syndrome

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