Psychosocial Risks Associated with Multiple Births Resulting from Assisted Reproduction

Published In: Fertility and Sterility, v. 83, no. 5, May 2005, p. 1422-1428

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2004

by Marcia A. Ellison, Selen Hotamisligil, Hang Lee, Janet W Rich-Edwards, Samuel C Pang, Janet E Hall

OBJECTIVE: To determine if increased psychosocial risks are associated with each increase in birth multiplicity (i.e., singleton, twin, triplet) resulting from assisted reproduction. DESIGN: Stratified random sample (n = 249). SETTING: An academic teaching hospital and private practice infertility center. PATIENT(s): Mothers raising 1- to 4-year-old children (n = 128 singletons, n = 111 twins, and n = 10 triplets) conceived through assisted reproduction. INTERVENTION(s): Self-administered, mailed survey. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(s): Scales measuring material needs, quality of life, social stigma, depression, stress, and marital satisfaction. RESULT(s): Using multivariate logistic regression models, for each additional multiple birth child, the odds of having difficulty meeting basic material needs more than tripled and the odds of lower quality of life and increased social stigma more than doubled. Each increase in multiplicity was also associated with increased risks of maternal depression. CONCLUSION(s): To increase patients' informed decision-making, assisted reproduction providers might consider incorporating a discussion of these risks with all patients before they begin fertility treatment, and holding the discussion again if the treatment results in a multiple gestation. These data may also help providers to identify appropriate counseling, depression screening, and supports for patients with multiple births.

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