Multiple Births and Infertility Drugs

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When more than one baby is born to a mother during a single delivery, infants have a higher chance of developing Cerebral Palsy than babies from single births. Use of infertility treatments can also cause higher risk.

Why are multiple births and infertility a risk for developing Cerebral Palsy?

Multiple births, or multi-fetal births, is when more than one baby is born to a mother during a single delivery. Multiple births can result in infants with a higher chance of developing Cerebral Palsy than babies from single births. As the number of infants in a multiples birth increases, so does the risk of a child developing Cerebral Palsy. The death of one of the multiples results in an even greater likelihood of Cerebral Palsy.

Pregnancies with multiple fetuses carry a higher risk for complications such as:

  • premature rupture of membranes
  • umbilical cord accidents in delivery
  • abnormal presentation during delivery
  • cesarean sections

Multi-fetal pregnancies are also more likely to result in premature delivery. In 2006, 11% of single babies were born premature, while 61% of multiples were born prior to 37 weeks gestation. Premature birth often results in low birth weight newborns. Both are risk factors for Cerebral Palsy, as evident in the table below:

Average: Twins Triplets Quadruplets
Birth Weight 5.06 lbs.
or 2.3 kg
3.52 lbs.
or 1.6 kg
2.86 lbs.
or 1.3 kg
Gestational Age at Delivery 35.3 weeks 32.2 weeks 29.9 weeks
% Admitted to NICU 25% 75% 100%
NICU stay 18 days 30 days 58 days
Risk of Cerebral Palsy
compared to singletons
4x 17x No data

Types of Multiple (Multifetal) Pregnancies

Multiple births, when more than one baby is born to a mother during a single delivery, can result in infants with a higher chance of developing Cerebral Palsy than babies from single births. As the number of infants in a multiples birth increases, so does the risk of a child developing Cerebral Palsy. The death of one of the multiples results in an even greater likelihood of Cerebral Palsy.

Pregnancies with multiple fetuses carry a higher risk for complications such as:

Description Number of Fetuses
Twins 2
Triplets 3
Quadruplets 4
Quintuplets 5
Sextuplets 6
Septuplets 7
Octuplets 8
Nonuplets 9
Decaplets 10
Undecaplets 11
Duodecaplets 12
Tredecaplets 13
Quattrodecaplets 14
Quindecaplets 15
Sexdecaplets 16
Sepdecaplets 17
Octdecaplets 18
Nondecaplets 19
Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

Were you or your child at risk – before, during or after your child’s birth?

Cerebral Palsy risk factors are events, substances or circumstances that increase the chances of a child developing Cerebral Palsy. They can be avoidable, or unavoidable. A risk factor does not ensure a child will develop Cerebral Palsy; it means chances are higher than if that risk factor was not present. Likewise, the absence of risk factors does not ensure that a child will not develop Cerebral Palsy. Have you been exposed to the following risk factors?

  • Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

Types of risk factors:

  • Asphyxia and oxygen deprivation
  • Blood type incompatibility or jaundice
  • Complications of birth
  • Infection
  • Intrauterine growth restrictions
  • Multiple births and infertility drugs
  • Parental health and habits
  • Placenta complications
  • Premature birth
  • Traumatic brain damage

Risk factors vs. risk factor causal pathways

A risk factor does not ensure a child will develop Cerebral Palsy; it means chances are higher than if that risk factor was not present. Likewise, the absence of risk factors does not ensure that a child will not develop Cerebral Palsy.

  • Risk Factors and Risk Factor Causal Pathways

The Cerebral Palsy Risk Factor Checklist

Any exposure to risk factors prior to conception and during pregnancy should be immediately discussed with a doctor in order to treat and minimize risk. The Cerebral Palsy Risk Factor Checklist helps parents determine if they may have been exposed to risk factors for Cerebral Palsy.

  • The Cerebral Palsy Risk Factor Checklist