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Most Twins Don't Need to be Born via Cesarean Section: Study

Update Date: Oct 02, 2013 08:02 PM EDT
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Mothers expecting twins need not be in any rush to schedule a cesarean section, a new study says.

The study, paid for by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and appearing in Thursday's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, studied 2,800 women pregnant with twins across 25 countries.

The results showed that half were scheduled to have a C-section and the other half were due to give birth vaginally. After the healthy births of each set of twin took place, researchers once again interviewed the study participants and found that only 2 percent of newborns were born with a serious problem or died, yet the study claims that the method of the birth made no difference in the outcome.

The rest of the mothers delivered one or both twins vaginally. Meanwhile, 56 percent of the women who had been planning for a vaginal delivery were able to stick with their plan; another 40 percent of these women wound up delivering both babies by C-section and 4 percent delivered one each way.

"These results do not indicate that all sets of twins should be delivered vaginally." Michael Greene, MD said in the statement. "Obstetricians exercising their best clinical judgment delivered both twins by cesarean section in nearly 40% of the women assigned to planned vaginal delivery, which undoubtedly contributed to the salutary outcomes," he writes. "However, the results of this study suggest that a plan to deliver appropriately selected sets of twins vaginally is a reasonably safe choice in skilled hands."

Cesarean sections are performed in one-third of all births in the United States and three-fourths of all twin births.  In the United States alone, the rate of twin births is up 76 percent since 1980, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Twin Birth Study took the researchers 7.5 years to recruit nearly 3,000 mothers to participate in the study.

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