Q: Are most triplets or more the result of fertility treatments?

A: According to the 2007 CDC report titled “2007 Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates: National Summary and Fertility Clinic Reports” 142,435 assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles in 2007 resulted in 43,412 live births and 57,569 infants. Of those, 29-32% were twins and 2% were triplets, quadruplets or more. The report estimated that 27-33% of all twin births and 82% of triplets or more are the result of fertility treatments (ART or non-ART).

The Raising Multiples’ Medical Birth Survey data shows that approximately 85% of triplets are the result of some type of fertility treatments and around 15% are conceived spontaneously. The percentage of spontaneous conceptions in the survey decreases for quadruplets to approximately 4%, and <1% for quintuplets or higher, but not all triplets, quadruplets, or even quintuplets are the result of fertility treatments. See the our Statistics & Research page for more details.

Due to recent improvements in many ART procedures and recommendations for the increased use of techniques like single-embryo transfers (SET) by organizations such as the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the percentage of respondents to our Medical Birth Survey indicating their higher-order multiples were conceived as a result of one or more ART procedures has declined.

Since 2003, more respondents to our Medical Birth Survey indicated conceiving their higher-order multiples following the use of ovulatory stimulating medications alone rather than the use of one or more ART procedures. While statistics are available on how ART procedures have affected the number of multiple births, statistics are currently not collected or available in the US on how ovulation induction (through the use of medications alone or with insemination) affect the number of multiple births.

Regardless of the conception, Raising Multiples strives to support any family of multiples. We understand that many of these families have spent months, sometimes years, coping with challenges and losses beyond their control, and that the ultimate goal is for a healthy pregnancy regardless of how the couple conceives. Unfortunately, families of higher-order multiples face a high-risk pregnancy. Therefore, we encourage friends and family members to offer positive support for the couple’s choices once they are expecting higher-order multiples, as these pregnancies truly are not the norm, even with the use ART procedures, and this support can be very beneficial to both parents and children.

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