Twin Births Fell After Dramatic Drop in Fertility Treatments in 2020

Twin Births Fell After Dramatic Drop in Fertility Treatments in 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the twin birthrate dropped in the United States. Prior to 2020, researchers estimate the rate of twin births had increased by a third worldwide since the 1980s.

When researchers analyzed birth records from 2019 compared to 2020, when the pandemic began, they found a decrease in all births. The decrease in twin births in the United States outpaced those of single children. The number of single births declined 3 percent, but twin births fell 7 percent.

The biggest changes took place in November and December 2020, when the twin birthrate declined between 10 and 14 percent. The decline was small for women under thirty, but the twin birth rate for women ages 30 to 39 fell by 5 percent and it fell by 11 percent for those forty and older. In December 2020 alone, women forty and older saw their twin birthrate fall 35 percent from a year before.

Twins and Fertility Treatment

Multiple births are the delivery of twins, triplets, or more and it is common with fertility treatments. During the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) multiple births primarily result from transfer of more than one embryo during the procedure. In ovulation induction, if more than one follicle is produced, the risk of multiple gestation can be as much as one out of three women who become pregnant.

Pandemic Associated Decrease in Twin Births

Researchers attribute the change in twin birth rates to a dramatic decline in fertility treatments at the beginning of the pandemic. At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommended that new cycles of IVF, embryo transfers and other fertility treatments be delayed. ASRM reversed its recommendation in late April 2020. However, the CDC researchers noted that the late 2020 twin birth declines coincided with what would have been the due dates of those receiving fertility treatments in March and April 2020.

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