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Multiple birth rate almost doubled since 1976

Midwives are encountering more multiple births than ever before, according to official figures.

The trend has been put down to an increasing use of IVF, while the Twins and Multiple Births Association says it should serve as a “wake-up call” to maternity units.

The number of women giving birth to twins, triplets or more babies jumped by 8.8% during the 10 years to 2011, data from Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

The year before last saw 11,000 multiple births in England and Wales, with 16.1 women per 1,000 giving birth to more than one baby. That was up from a rate of 15.7 in 2010, and one of just 9.6 women per 1,000 back in 1976.

NICE has attributed the rising “multiple maternity rate” to an increasing use of assisted reproduction procedures including IVF. But data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority show that the number of women conceiving more than one baby while using IVF fell from 22.3% in 2010 to 20.6% in 2011.

Keith Reed, chief executive officer of the Twins and Multiple Births Association, said: “This is a wake-up a call for maternity units to ensure that they are adhering to the new NICE multiple pregnancy guidance. With these higher risk pregnancies, following the guidance gives mothers and babies the best chance of a happy healthy start to life.”

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