Multiple birth pregnancies cost a fortune, researchers find

Along with the little bundle of joy comes a hefty bill and in fact its not ‘more the merrier’ but ‘more the costlier’.

According to the latest findings published in the current issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, a singleton delivery in US costs $21,000. But the bill skyrockets to $105,000 for delivering twins and crosses $400,000 for triplets or more.

Highlighting the delivery-related expenditure, Dr. Dongmu Zhang, researcher at Global Health Outcomes at Merck & Co., said, “On average, combined all-cause healthcare expenses for mothers with twins or higher-order multiple births were about five and 20 times more expensive, respectively, than singleton delivery.”

The findings of the study are based on the analysis of nearly 438,000 US births between 2005 and 2010. While 424,880 (97%) of all deliveries were singleton births, 12,482 (2.85%) were twins and 562 (0.13%) were triplets or more.

The exorbitant cost

The average health case costs stood at a mere $21000 for singletons in comparison to a whooping $400,000 for triplets or more, the researchers revealed.

The costs included both maternal-related costs and infant-related costs. While maternal cost included medical expenses incurred during the 27 weeks prior to delivery to up to 30 days after the delivery, the infant-related expenditure included all medical expenditure incurred up to the baby’s first birthday.

For singleton deliveries, the maternal-related expenses formed the major portion of the bill. The expenditure accounted for 60% of all medical expenses.

On the contrary, in deliveries involving twins, triplets or more, infant-related expenditure makes the bulk. It accounts for 70% and 85% of all medical costs, respectively, Zhang noted.

Women pregnant with twins or more are more likely to suffer from co-existing health conditions as compared to mothers pregnant with singletons. Also, mothers with twins or more require longer hospital stays, Zhang revealed.

Furthermore, multiple pregnancies are common among women who conceived using the assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Such techniques itself cost a fortune, he added. Zhang and team recommend that such costs can be controlled if IVF technicians adopt strategies that check multiple embryo transfer.

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