It might seem like twins keep popping up out of nowhere, especially with the exciting baby news that Beyoncé and Amal Clooney are both expecting two bundles of joy. With what seems like a twin boom, people have speculated about how the two women, who are both in their mid to late 30s, conceived theirs — specifically whether they used in vitro fertilization, or IVF (even though it's not actually our business). But, despite all of the twin news dominating headlines, a recent report found that fewer women are having multiples with IVF these days. In fact, according to Today, fertility doctors are urging patients to try and conceive only one baby at a time instead of transferring multiple embryos at once.
In reality, unless Beyoncé and Clooney choose to tell the world how they conceived their babies, we won’t be able to weigh in on the question. But this latest report shuts down the automatic assumption that a woman over the age of 30, who is pregnant with twins, may have used IVF. Actually, naturally conceiving twins is more common for older women in the same age bracket as Beyoncé and Clooney, which is possibly why we’re seeing twins more and more. According to Today, more women are delaying pregnancy to their mid-30s and beyond, which is a factor that may have contributed to this twin boom.
While older mothers are more likely to seek IVF treatment as most experts agree that overall fertility begins to decline once a woman reaches 35, modern fertility technology show signs of fewer twins as a result of IVF. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, recent data suggests that doctors are increasingly implanting just one embryo at a time because of the increased medical risks and pregnancy complications associated with IVF twins born to older women.
According to Today, the study found that “women over 37 who gave birth to IVF twins had longer hospital stays and an increased chance of pre-term labor and preeclampsia than having two singleton pregnancies. Their twin babies were more likely to have complications, including low birth weight and lung disorders.”
All of these potential risks have prompted fertility specialists to tighten IVF guidelines and recommendations. And latest numbers from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology show that it's taking effect: In 2014, single embryo transfers accounted for 27 percent of more than 190,000 IVF pregnancies, which was a 21 percent increase from 2013.
As far as IVF treatments go, twins were once seen as the norm. But, as fertility specialists gather more information on the medical risks and pregnancy complications that come with multiple IVF pregnancies, those trends will continue to change — and in the grand scheme of things, perhaps that's not a bad thing.