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Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Aug;30(4):802-7.

Twinning rates and survival of twins in rural Nepal.

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The Division of Disease Control and Prevention, and the Center for Human Nutrition (CHN), Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205-2103, USA.



Twin pregnancies are common but there are few data on rates of twinning or survival of liveborn twin infants in developing countries.


The rates of multiple births were calculated in a population-based cohort of married women of childbearing age who were enrolled in a randomized community trial to assess the impact of vitamin A or beta-carotene on maternal and infant health and survival.


The rate of twinning was 16.1 per 1000 pregnancies (7.4 if only twin pregnancies resulting in two liveborn infants were used). The rate for triplets and quadruplets was 0.19 and 0.06 per 1000 pregnancies. Twinning rates were higher among women of higher parity, but were not associated with maternal age. Twinning rates among twins where at least one was live born (or increased in utero survival) were 30% (95% CI : -1%, 71%) and 44% (95% CI : 9%, 89%) higher among women receiving vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements than placebo, after adjusting for maternal age, gestational age, and parity. The perinatal mortality rate was 8.54 times higher for twins than singletons, 7.32 higher for neonatal mortality, and 5.84 higher for cumulative 24-week mortality. This difference was reduced but not erased by adjusting for gestational age. No difference in survival of liveborn twin infants was seen by supplement group. A higher mortality rate among male twins was largely explained by gestational age.


Multiple births are relatively common occurrences in rural Nepal, and carry a much higher mortality risk for the infants than for singletons. Vitamin A or beta-carotene supplementation appeared to increase the rate of twinning, or improve the survival of twins in utero, but did not increase twin survival after birth.

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