The risk of mortality or cerebral palsy in twins: A collaborative population-based study

Ann I. Scher*, Bev Petterson, Eve Blair, Jonas H. Ellenberg, Judy K. Grether, Eric Haan, Dinah S. Reddihough, Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, Karin B. Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


The purpose of the paper was to describe demographic and clinical factors associated with fetal or neonatal death or cerebral palsy (CP) in twins. Vital statistics from five populations in the United States and Australia, which included information on CP diagnosed after 1 y of age. Information on zygosity was not available. In 1,141,351 births, 25,772 of whom were twins, significant secular trends from 1980 to 1989 included increasing prevalence of twins, increasing proportion of unlike-sex twins, and increasing maternal age. Overall, twins were at an approximately 5-fold increased risk of fetal death, 7-fold increased risk of neonatal death, and 4-fold increased risk of CP compared with singletons. However, at birth weight <2500 g, twins generally did better than singletons, both with respect to mortality and to CP rates. Second-born twins and twins from same-sex pairs were at increased risk of early death but not of CP. Twins from growth-discordant pairs and twins whose co-twin died were at increased risk of both mortality and CP. The highest rates of CP were in surviving twins whose co-twin was still-born (4.7%), died shortly after birth (6.3%) or had CP (11.8%). In this large data set spanning a 10-y period, overall rates of death or cerebral palsy were higher in twins than singletons, although small twins generally did better than small singletons. Co-twin death was a strong predictor of CP in surviving twins. This risk was the same for same- and different-sex pairs, and observed both for preterm and term infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-681
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


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