Fetal reduction and twins

Published:October 23, 2021DOI:
      Infertility treatments have allowed millions of couples to have their own children, but resultant multiple pregnancies with their increased morbidity and mortality have been a significant complication. Fetal reduction was developed to ameliorate this issue. Over 30 years of publications show that fetal reduction has been highly successful in substantially reducing both mortality and morbidity related to multiple pregnancies. As with most radically new techniques, initial cases were in the “nothing to lose” category. With experience, indications liberalize, and quality of life issues gain relevance. The overall risks of twin pregnancy are not twice that of singleton pregnancy; they are about 4 to 5 times higher. In experienced hands, the combination of genetic testing by chorionic villus sampling followed by fetal reduction has made the outcomes of most multiple pregnancies statistically equivalent to those of pregnancies with lower fetal numbers. Use of microarray analysis to better determine fetal genetic health before deciding on which fetus(es) to keep or reduce further improves pediatric outcomes. With increasing experience and lower average starting numbers, the proportion of fetal reductions to a singleton has increased considerably. Twins to a singleton fetal reductions now constitute an increasing proportion of cases performed. Data on such cases show improved outcomes, and we believe fetal reduction should be at least discussed and offered to all patients with a dichorionic twin pregnancy or higher. With the increasing reliance on elective single-embryo transfers, monochorionic twins, which have much higher complication rates than dichorionic twins, have increased substantially. Furthermore, monochorionic twins cannot be readily and safely reduced, so the adverse perinatal statistics of elective single-embryo transfer are a major setback for good outcomes. Although elective single-embryo transfer is appropriate for some, we believe that for many couples, the transfer of 2 embryos is generally a more rational approach.

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