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Are multiple pregnancies more risky than single pregnancies?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary
— Updated on :
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Yes. The risk of prematurity, low birth weight and complications in the mother or fetus are more important in a multiple pregnancy. However, adequate weight gain during pregnancy and optimal nutrition can reduce these risks.

About half of the time, a multiple pregnancy leads to the birth of premature infants. In Canada in 2004, 57% of twins were born prematurely. The risk of low birth weight is also higher. These increases can be explained by the limited space in the uterus and the competition for nutrients.

Multiple pregnancy also increases the risk of maternal complications, such as hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and anemia caused by iron deficiency.

To prevent prematurity and low birth weight in newborns and the impacts associated with it, a proper weight gain (French only) is very important in a multiple pregnancy.

Multiple pregnancy is very demanding given the presence of two babies to feed. Studies show that it requires more energy and nutrients than a single pregnancy. Having an abundant, balanced and varied diet reduces the risk of nutritional deficiency in pregnant women and allows the babies to be born healthy, with good weight and good reserves of nutrients. At the Montreal Diet Dispensary, it is recommended to accompany the prenatal multivitamin with another multivitamin and mineral supplement (French only) containing iron, copper and vitamin B6 to allow the mother to meet her increased requirements for vitamins and minerals.

Any woman living a multiple pregnancy should receive a nutritional assessment by a nutritionist to ensure that her diet is adequate in order to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy-induced hypertension, prematurity and small birth weight.

References

  • Agence de la santé publique du Canada. (2008). Rapport sur la santé périnatale au Canada. Document archivé. Repéré à : http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/2008/cphr-rspc/index-fra.php
  • Dubois, S., Dougherty, C., Duquette, M., Hanley, J.A. et Moutquin, J. (1991). Twin pregnancy: the impact of the Higgins Nutrition Intervention Program on maternal and neonatal outcomes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 53(6), 1397-1403.
  • Dietitians of Canada. Multi-fetal Pregnancy Practice Guidance Summary. in Pen : practice-based evidence in nutrition. Last update : Nov 23, 2009. Access only by subscription.
  • Goodnight, W. et Newman, R. (2009). Optimal nutrition for improved twin pregnancy outcome. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 114(5), 1121-34.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.