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Multiple births threaten marriages, study finds

22 March 2010
Appeared in BioNews 550

Parents of twins, triplets or more are more likely to divorce or separate than other couples with children, according to a report commissioned by a multiple birth charity.

Nine months after a multiple birth, 28 per cent of multiple birth families had split up compared to 24 per cent of other families, the Twins and Multiple Birth Association (TAMBA) supported study found.

Financial pressures were a common reason given for family breakdown, according to the research by Birmingham University's School of Social Policy. 62 per cent of multiple birth families said they were financially worse off after their babies were born, compared with 40 per cent of families with 'singletons'.

'The report found that twins and triplets are more likely to be born to married and older couples, who are in paid employment', study author Steve McKay, Professor of Social Research, said in a TAMBA press release.

'These factors should provide some degree of 'protection' against low incomes and deprivation, so it is deeply concerning that twins or triplets are experiencing greater levels of material deprivation than singletons, and that their families are at greater risk of separation and divorce'.

The report analysed data from two Government large-scale surveys: the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), which follows 18,500 children born in 2000/2001; and the Family Resources Survey (FRS), which covers more than 25,000 households containing 16,000 children. The latter is a key source of statistics on poverty and low income.

Almost half (48 per cent) of families raising twins or triplets had used up some or all their savings, compared to 37 per cent of all families. Nine months after giving birth, mothers who had multiple births were 20 per cent less likely to have returned to work than mothers of singletons.

Multiple pregnancies are a common hazard of fertility treatments if several embryos are implanted in a woman, and raise the risk of complications like pre-eclampsia and premature birth.

Tamba press release |  15 March 2010
Families with twins more likely to split up as cost of multiple births puts a strain on parents
Daily Mail |  16 March 2010
Parents of twins 'more likely to divorce'
The Telegraph |  16 March 2010
Parents of twins more likely to divorce, finds research for Tamba
TimesOnline |  16 March 2010
The effects of twins and multiple births on families and their living standards
Tamba website |  15 March 2010
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