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Rising trizygotic triplet rates in Japan, 1975-1994.

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National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Tokyo, Japan.


Zygosity of triplet births in Japan was estimated by Allen's equation with the assumption that the rate of dizygotic (DZ) triplets reflects that of twins. Whereas the DZ triplet rate increased during the period from 1975 to 1994, reflecting the increase in the DZ twinning rate in the period, monozygotic (MZ) triplet rates remained constant from 1975 (28 per million births) to 1994 (23). The trizygotic (TZ) triplet rate gradually increased from 1975 (18) up to 1985 (29), and rapidly increased thereafter to 1994 (202). The higher TZ triplet rate since 1986 is most likely attributed to the higher proportion of mothers treated with ovulation-inducing hormones and partially to in-vitro fertilization in Japan. As for maternal age, MZ triplet rates remained nearly constant for all the maternal age groups except the youngest and the oldest ones. On the other hand, TZ triplet rates increased up to the age group of 30-34 years and decreased thereafter in almost every year. The TZ rate in the age group of 30-34 years slowly increased from 1975 to 1988 (63 per million births) and rapidly increased thereafter (314 in 1994). The TZ rate was statistically significantly higher in the period 1986-1994 than in the period 1975-1985 in each of the nine districts in Japan. Geographical variations in the TZ rates in the latest period have drastically changed from those during the period from 1955-1959 and in 1974.

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