Mothers who have multiple births

Multiple births are births of more than one baby from a single pregnancy, and include twins, triplets and higher order multiples.

This section looks at mothers who have multiple births by maternal age, timing of first antenatal visit, onset of labour and method of birth. Topics for babies of multiple births are birthweight, gestational age, Apgar score at 5 minutes, admission to special care nurseries (SCN) or neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and length of hospital stay.

The number of multiple births in Australia each year is small, representing less than 2% of all births. Of this small proportion, almost all multiple births (99%) were twins, while the remaining 1.5% were other multiples (that is, triplets, quadruplets or higher).

The number of multiple births has been increasing, coinciding with increasing maternal age at birth and use of assisted reproductive technology.

Most mothers of multiples attended an antenatal visit in the first trimester (4 in 5). More than 1 in 2 mothers had no labour, and mothers of multiples therefore had a high rate of caesarean sections (7 in 10).

The vast majority of babies from multiple births had an Apgar score of 7–10 at 5 minutes (9 in 10), indicating that they have adapted well post-birth. More than half of babies in multiple births were born low birthweight or pre-term (almost 7 in 10), including babies who were both low birthweight and pre-term. As a result, 2 in 3 babies of multiple births were admitted to SCN or NICU, and 1 in 2 had hospital stays of 6 days or more.