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Twin and triplet births on the rise, according to latest figures 

21st October 2016

STATISTICS have today (Friday, 21 October) been released on the number of multiple births in England and Wales.

The figures1, released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), show that in 2015 the overall number of multiple births has increased.

There were 697,852 babies born in England and Wales in 2015, compared to 695,233 in 2014. Of these, there were 11,073 women who gave birth to multiples in 2015 compared to 10,989 in 2014.

Of these, 10,901 women had twins and 169 had triplets. There were also three sets of quads born.

This means the number of multiple births was 16.1 in 1,000, a rise from the 2014 figures of 16 in 1,000.  This equals the highest proportion of multiple pregnancies previously reached in 2011. These are historically high levels which have been sustained over the past five years and the pattern looks set to continue.

Although women aged 45 and over were most likely to have a multiple birth (102.4 out of every 1,000 women giving birth in this age group had a multiple birth), the rise in the rate of women having multiple births is thought to have been driven by those aged 25 to 29.

The ONS website said “although most multiple births occur naturally, many occur as a result of fertility treatment. On average, multiple births tend to have lower birthweights than singletons and multiple pregnancies are also associated with a higher risk of stillbirth, infant deaths and child disability”.

Tamba CEO Keith Reed said: “We can speculate that the increase in multiple pregnancies is likely due to emerging trends in fertility practice, but also an increasing number of mums with higher Body Mass Indexes (BMIs).  Both are known to increase the risk of having a multiple pregnancy.  We will await more data around this.

“The news today that the number multiple births in the UK has risen only acts to reinforce the growing consensus that the NHS needs to provide better care and training for maternity staff about the care of multiples.

“With multiples making up 1.6% of pregnancies but accounting for 7% of stillbirths and 14% of neonatal deaths it is clear that more needs to be done.

“There needs to be clinical leadership at a national level too.  The current guidelines for looking after multiple pregnancies produced by NICE urgently need updating.  They don’t even cover what to do during birth and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting this is where many problems occur.

“Just last month, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Nicola Blackwood acknowledged that ‘the NICE had advised there is a gap in existing guidelines with regards to intrapartum care for multiple pregnancies’2. Now NICE need to act urgently to close this gap otherwise more mothers and babies are going to be unnecessarily placed at risk of harm.”

Figures released by Northern Ireland’s NIRSAshow3 that the number of multiple births remained the same from 2014 to 2015. There were a total of 351 multiple births - 347 sets of twins and 4 triplets. Interestingly, the number of triplet sets increased by three, while the number of twin sets decreased by three; from 4 to 7 and from 347 to 343 respectively.


1. The Office of National Statistics:


2. Source = They Work For You


3. Statistics released by NIRSA website


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