Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 February 2012
With improved technology in assisted reproductive medicine, there has been an absolute increase in the numbers of twin pregnancies with an associated increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity. This increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity is largely due to a higher incidence of delivering preterm as compared to singletons. Twin pregnancies have their unique complications that include abnormal placental communication and discordant growth which are associated with perinatal mortality and morbidity. The objectives of this study were two-fold: i) to determine if the morbidity/mortality outcome at 18–24 months corrected age seen in a cohort of twins born between 24–30 weeks gestation was significantly different as compared to singleton preterm infants of the same gestation; and ii) to determine and evaluate any differences between monochorionic (MC) and dichorionic (DC) twins. Twins 24–30 weeks gestation at birth born between 01/01/97–30/06/99 were identified and prospectively followed to 18–24 months corrected age (c.a.). They were matched with a singleton infant of the same gender and within 1 week of the same gestation. Obstetrical, neonatal and neurodevelopmental data were gathered and analyzed. The primary outcome was death or the presence of a severe neurodevelopmental deficit at 18–24 months corrected age. Of the 56 sets of twins identified, 52 sets were followed prospectively with 101 infants available for matching. In this cohort, twin pregnancies had a lower incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension and premature rupture of membranes than singletons (p < 0.05). The two groups were comparable in neonatal characteristics. The incidence of death or severe disability was 29.7% in twins vs. 22.8% in singletons (p = 0.337, Fisher's exact test). The major area of deficit was in the cognitive category for both groups, 9.9% vs. 7.9% respectively. MC twins made up 35.6%; DC twins 64.4%. Twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) occurred in 6.9%. Discordant growth occurred more frequently in MC pregnancies (p = 0.016). MC twins tended to be more premature, lower in birth weight, and experience neonatal morbidity in the form of patent ductus arteriosus and sepsis (p < 0.05) as compared to DC twins. However, the primary outcome of death or severe neurodevelopmental deficit at 18–24 months c.a. was not significantly different between the two groups, 38.9% (MC) vs. 24.6% (DC), (p = 0.173, Fisher's exact test). Neurodevelopmental morbidity or mortality in twins with TTTS was 42%. Mortality and severe neurodevelopmental morbidity were not significantly higher in twins as compared to singletons in this cohort. However, the trend is slightly higher in twins, which may have clinical significance. Though not statistically significant, the incidence of 38.9% in adverse outcome with MC twins may be clinically significant. With the number of twins steadily increasing, further monitoring is required to determine future directions in intervention and research. Early recognition of monochorionicity remains essential to optimize care and neurodevelopment for these infants.