Caesarean no safer than vaginal delivery for twins, Sunnybrook research finds

By: Sybil Edmonds, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre twins

Delivering twins by planned vaginal birth is just as safe as delivering them by planned caesarean section, according to the newly released findings of Twin Birth Study, a multi-site trial led by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

“Our findings show that planned vaginal birth is the correct method for delivering twins in a pregnancy that is otherwise uncomplicated, and when the first baby is facing head down,” says Dr. Jon Barrett, Sunnybrook’s chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and director of the Women & Babies Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute.

“We found there is no reason for doctors or women to be planning to deliver twins by caesarean section, as the babies’ outcomes remain the same regardless of how they are delivered,” says Dr. Barrett, principal investigator of the study.

As the number of multiple births in Canada and around the world has risen, so too has the trend of delivering twins by planned caesarean section.

Dr. Barrett hopes the study results will not only help women and their physicians choose the method of delivery that is right for them, but also decrease the rate of unnecessary caesarean sections.

“I think these results will serve as a heads-up to physicians to keep vaginal delivery skills in practice, so we don’t lose them,” says Dr. Barrett.

Nearly a decade in the making, the Twin Birth Study involved 2,804 women with twin pregnancies from 106 centres in 25 countries, and is the only large scale, randomized controlled trial that has been undertaken to determine the optimal method of delivering twins.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Mother, Infant and Child Research at Sunnybrook, and funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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