Follow-up issues with multiples
The rate of multiple pregnancy has increased in developed countries, a finding usually attributed to more widespread use of assisted reproductive technologies. Multiple pregnancies are associated with a greater risk of pregnancy complications, including intrauterine growth restriction of one or more of the fetuses, vascular communications within a shared monochorionic placenta and premature delivery. Surviving infants are at significantly greater risk of developing cerebral palsy due to a combination of a higher proportion of them being preterm or of low birth weight, and complications associated with chorionicity. These infants are also at greater risk for abnormal cognitive development and learning disabilities for the same reasons. Parenting styles and family dynamics may also differ with multiples compared with singletons, which may affect long-term behaviour and development.
Thus, infants of multiple pregnancies should receive careful neuro-developmental follow-up. For larger, lower risk infants, this follow-up may be provided by general paediatricians within the community. However, for infants with birth weights of less than 1000 g or with a complicated antenatal or neonatal course, follow-up should be in a high-risk neonatal follow-up clinic with appropriate multidisciplinary support.