Birth outcomes of twins after multifetal pregnancy reduction compared with primary twins

Eline Meireson*, Laura De Rycke, Esmée M. Bijnens, Isabelle Dehaene, Sophie De Bock, Catherine Derom, Kristien Roelens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The introduction of assisted reproductive technology and the trend of increasing maternal age at conception have contributed to a significant rise in the incidence of multiple pregnancies. Multiple pregnancies bear several inherent risks for both mother and child. These risks increase with plurality and type of chorionicity. Multifetal pregnancy reduction is the selective abortion of ≥1 fetuses to improve the outcome of the remaining fetus(es) by decreasing the risk of premature birth and other complications. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to compare birth outcomes of trichorionic triplets reduced to twins with those of trichorionic triplets and primary dichorionic twins. The added value of this study is the comparison with an additional control group, namely primary dichorionic twins. STUDY DESIGN: This was a retrospective cohort study. Data from January 1990 to November 2016 were collected from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey, one of the largest European multiple birth registries. A total of 85 trichorionic triplet pregnancies (170 neonates) undergoing multifetal pregnancy reduction to twins were compared with 5093 primary dichorionic twin pregnancies (10,186 neonates) and 104 expectantly managed trichorionic triplet pregnancies (309 neonates). The assessed outcomes were gestational age at delivery, birthweight, and small for gestational age. RESULTS: Pregnancy reduction from triplets to twins was associated with higher birthweight (+365.44 g; 95% confidence interval, 222.75–508.14 g; P<.0001) and higher gestational age (1.7 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 0.93–2.46; P<.0001) compared with ongoing trichorionic triplets after adjustment for sex, parity, method of conception, birth year, and maternal age. A trend toward lower risk of small for gestational age was observed. Reduced triplets had, on average, lower birthweight (−263.12 g; 95% confidence interval, −371.80 to −154.44 g; P<.0001) and lower gestational age (−1.13 weeks; 95% confidence interval, −1.70 to −0.56; P=.0001) compared with primary twins. No statistically significant difference was observed between primary twins and reduced triplets that reached 32 weeks of gestation. CONCLUSION: Multifetal pregnancy reduction from trichorionic triplets to twins significantly improved birth outcomes. This suggests that multifetal pregnancy reduction of trichorionic triplets to twins is medically justifiable. However, the birth outcomes of primary twins before 32 weeks of gestation are still better than those of reduced triplets. The process of multifetal pregnancy reduction includes at least 1 fetal death by definition, and thus prevention of higher-order pregnancies is preferable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101230
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • birthweight
  • gestational age
  • multifetal pregnancy reduction
  • small for gestational age
  • triplets
  • twins


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